Typographical Note

The idea of public sociology in its global form was inspired by sociological practice in South Africa, conceptualised as ‘critical engagement’, when the US sociologist Michael Burawoy visited South Africa in the 1990s. This volume explores the trajectory of ‘critical engagement’ before and after Burawoy’s visit, comparing this to the trajectory of ‘public sociology’, which was forged in the very different context of US sociology. Contributors to the edited volume reflect on four decades of dialogue and concept formation between the dominant sociology of the North and the emergent sociology of the South over a 40 year period. They use this to interrogate deeply the contradictions, challenges and profound contribution of social science research to popular struggle - and the equally profound contribution of popular struggles to the formation of new sociological knowledge. Authors located in South Africa wrote the majority of the chapters, but the book also includes contributions from Chile and Turkey as points of comparison across the global South. The book engages historically and conceptually with critical engagement as an evolving practice, as well as more recent research practices in and around the Society, Work and Politics Institute (SWOP) in Johannesburg over the past decade in order to deepen our understanding of the methodologies and processes of knowledge formation that characterise critically engaged research.

Context matters when it comes to writing convention. On the use of terms that refer to race, the Bristol University Press style convention states the following: ‘Black is a term that embraces people who experience structural and institutional discrimination because of their skin colour and is often used politically to refer to people of African, Caribbean and South Asian origin to imply solidarity against racism. In the past, Black has generally been written in lower case. In line with common usage, Bristol University Press now uses initial capitals for Black and White.’ In the South African context, writing convention is influenced by the fact that the apartheid state capitalized racial descriptors and the non-racial movement (subscribing to the Freedom Charter) used the convention of not capitalizing the words ‘black’ and ‘white’ in response to this. The Black Consciousness movement took a different approach and capitalized the word ‘Black’. Given this history and political context, and the ongoing contestation over terminology and the meaning of racial identity, we agreed with our publishers to allow for inconsistency across the manuscript and to retain the individual approach followed by chapter authors.

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