The idea of public sociology, as introduced by Michael Burawoy, was inspired by the sociological practice in South Africa known as ‘critical engagement’. This volume explores the evolution of critical engagement before and after Burawoy’s visit to South Africa in the 1990s and offers a Southern critique of his model of public sociology.
Involving four generations of researchers from the Global South, the authors provide a multifaceted exploration of the formation of new knowledge through research practices of co-production.
Tracing the historical development of ‘critical engagement’ from a Global South perspective, the book deftly weaves a bridge between the debates on public sociology and decolonial frameworks.
Recent developments in the organization of work and production have facilitated the decline of wage employment in many regions of the world. However, the idea of the wage continues to dominate the political imaginations of governments, researchers and activists, based on the historical experiences of industrial workers in the global North.
This edited collection revitalises debates on the future of work by challenging the idea of wage employment as the global norm. Taking theoretical inspiration from the global South, the authors compare lived experiences of ‘ordinary work’ across taken-for-granted conceptual and geographical boundaries; from Cambodian brick kilns to Catalonian cooperatives. Their contributions open up new possibilities for how work, identity and security might be woven together differently.
This volume is an invaluable resource for academics, students and readers interested in alternative and emerging forms of work around the world.
Much of the literature on the political engagements of sociologists has been framed by Michael Burawoy’s concept of ‘public sociology’. The aim of this chapter is to develop a critique of this concept, drawing from the writings and practices of a group of sociologists at the Society, Work and Politics Institute (SWOP) in Johannesburg, South Africa, and replace it with the concept of ‘critically engaged sociology’ – ‘critical engagement’ for short – which emerges through interaction between sociologists and movements in the struggle for change and captures more
Introduction In this chapter, we provide an overview of the research trajectory of the Society, Work and Politics Institute (SWOP) at the University of the Witwatersrand (colloquially referred to as Wits) and how this was shaped by its commitment to supporting the labour movement in particular as well as South Africa’s liberation movement and social movements in general. Wiebke Keim (2011 , 2017 ) argues that the international division of intellectual labour represents a centre–periphery relationship. Given the uneven playing field, she argues, scholars
Education, Science and Technology, and general secretary of the South African Communist Party, invited me to address the Association for Sociology in Southern Africa. The topic was the collapse of communism in Eastern Europe, based on my decade-long research in Hungary. That year, I came away from South Africa inspired by the engaged research being conducted by sociologists, joined to the struggles against apartheid. It led me to rethink the meaning and potential of sociology. By the end of the 1990s, I was visiting the Society, Work and Politics Institute (SWOP
This chapter describes two different sociological initiatives. The first was the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) project (2011–17) in which the Society, Work and Politics Institute (SWOP) participated. This took the form of ‘public sociology’, focused on disseminating instrumental knowledge to a non-academic audience. The second initiative was the SWOP Transition Project (2018–21), a critically engaged project that involved working with popular movements in the co-production of new knowledge, which had theoretical implications. This
around the world participated. There, I was able to meet Edward (Eddie) Webster, who explained the work of the Society, Work and Politics Institute (SWOP) and its research programme. I was surprised that the themes addressed by SWOP showed great harmony with the social, historical, political and cultural problems in Latin America. At the same time, it seemed paradoxical that we should meet in Germany to catch up on these agendas. In any case, this event opened a window: the Global South was in front of me. On my return to Chile in September 2014, I joined the
Public sociology’s South African link The idea of public sociology in its global form was inspired by sociological practice in South Africa. When the US sociologist Michael Burawoy visited South Africa in 1990, just as the negotiated transition to democracy was getting underway, he was struck by the social and political engagement of South African sociology and the vibrant quality of the debates at the annual conference of the South African Sociological Association. He subsequently paid several visits to what is now known as the Society, Work and Politics
with input from a group of science and engineering graduate students interested in health and safety issues, the Technical Advice Group. In 1987 the university formally recognized the entity as a programme, and in 1996 SWOP was granted unit status by the national science body, the Centre for Science Development. In 2007 the university granted SWOP institute status and it was renamed the Society, Work and Development Institute. In 2018 it was again renamed the Society, Work and Politics Institute. It has kept the acronym SWOP and is now known as the SWOP Institute
our contributors to concentrate their attention on the processes of knowledge production in their chapters, and in particular on the interplay between the production of political knowledge and the production of scholarly knowledge. In the conclusion, I discuss each of our three questions in turn. Southern sociology In considering this question, I concentrate on the chapters that reflect on the Society, Work and Politics Institute (SWOP) experience together with the chapters on the Chilean project and Turkish sociology. These chapters present three case studies