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Michael Burawoy

Public Sociology






Michael Burawoy


Michael Burawoy has  been a participant observer of industrial workplaces in four countries: Zambia, United States, Hungary and Russia. In his different projects he has tried to illuminate -- from the standpoint of the working class -- postcolonialism, the organization of consent to capitalism, the peculiar forms of class consciousness and work organization in state socialism, and, finally, the dilemmas of transition from socialism to capitalism. Over the course of four decades of research and teaching, he has developed The Extended Case Method that allows broad conclusions to be drawn from ethnographic research. The same methodology is advanced in Global Ethnography, a book coauthored with 9 graduate students, that shows how globalization can be studied "from below" through participating in the lives of those who experience it. No longer able to work in factories, he turned to the study of his own workplace – the university – to consider the way sociology itself is produced and then disseminated to diverse publics. His advocacy of public sociology has generated much heat in many a cool place. Throughout his sociological career he has engaged with Marxism, pursuing its reconstruction  in the light of his research and, more broadly, in the light of the historical challenges of the late 20th and early 21st. centuries. Most recently he has been studying the life and work of W.E.B. Du Bois with a view to his  significance both for sociology and for Marxism. He has been president of the American Sociological Association (2003-4); president of the International Sociological Association (2010-14); founding editor of the  magazine, Global Dialogue (2010-2017);  and co-chair and secretary of the Berkeley Faculty Association (2015-2021).                

For an amusing account of his research see Jeff Byles' article in the Village Voice, "Tales of the Kefir Furnaceman."

Recent and Forthcoming Publications

The Making of Black Marxism: The Complementary Perspectives of W.E.B. Du Bois and Frantz Fanon (Oxford Handbook of W.E.B. Du Bois edited by Aldon Morris et al., forthcoming)  

"The Necessity of Real Utopias" (Global Dialogue, 2022) 

Walking on Two Legs: Black Marxism and the Sociological Canon (Critical Sociology, 2022)  

Public Sociology: Between Utopia and Anti-Utopia (Polity Press, October 2021)

Pour un Marxisme Sociologique (with Erik Wright) (Les Úditions sociale , October 2021)

The State of US Sociology: From Crisis to Renewal   (Critical Sociology, 2022)  

Why is Classical Theory Classical? Theorizing the Canon and Canonizing Du Bois (Journal of Classical Sociology 2021)  

Decolonizing Sociology: The Significance of W.E.B. Du Bois (Critical Sociology, 2021)

Living Sociology: On Being in the World One Studies  (Annual Review of Sociology, 2021) 

Return to Fanon (Contexts 2021) 

Going Public with Polanyi in the Era of Trump. ( The Routledge International Handbook of Public Sociology, 2021).

Living Theory: Reflections on Four Decades of Teaching Social Theory in Constructing Social Research Objects edited by Hakon Leiulfsrud and Peter Sohlberg (2021)  

Public Sociology under Covid-19. Preface to Covid-19: An Epochal Social Change edited by Paolo Diana, Giovannipaolo Ferrari, Pietro Dommarco (2021) (Italian)