What Do Public Sociologists Do? A Critique of Burawoy

Avi Goldberg, Axel van den Berg


Michael Burawoy certainly seems to have the requisite organizational and marketing savvy to be a successful ‘public sociologist.’ Preaching from a few well-chosen pulpits, the ASA Presidency first among them, he has almost singlehandedly created a multinational cottage industry busily debating his ideas about the future of our discipline. The responses have been as varied as they have been numerous. While many have been quite critical, the criticisms have originated from a bewildering range of often entirely opposite positions on the ideological-philosophical spectrum, as well as from every imaginable position in between. Burawoy himself takes this multiplicity of position-takings to be evidence for the plausibility of his own ideas about different kinds of sociology and the possibility of a fruitful, collaborative division of labour between them (Burawoy 2007: 246). But we suspect it is more likely simply an expression of the depth and the breadth of our discord concerning the basic question of what we want with our discipline .

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.29173/cjs6312