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Harmony Forum

Peace from Harmony
Michael Burawoy: Facing the Challenges of Global Sociology towards harmonious civilization

Dr. Michael Burawoy

President, International Sociological Association(ISA)



Department of Sociology

University of California

Berkeley, CA 94720

Telephone: 510-643-1958

Home Address: 320 Lee St., Apt. 1002, Oakland, CA 94610, USA

Short Bio


B.A. Mathematics, University of Cambridge, England, 1968.

M.A. Sociology, University of Zambia, 1972.

Ph.D. Sociology, University of Chicago, 1976.


Research, Administrative, and Teaching Experience

Research Officer 1969-70 Anglo American Corporation, Zambia

Lecturer 1975 Department of Political Science, University of Chicago

Visiting Fellow 1980 Southern African Research Program, Yale University

Assistant Professor 1976-82 Department of Sociology, University of California, Berkeley

Associate Professor 1982-83 Department of Sociology, University of Wisconsin, Madison

Associate Professor 1982-88 Department of Sociology, University of California, Berkeley

Visiting Fellow 1983-87 Institute of Sociology, Hungarian Academy of Sciences

Professor 1988- Department of Sociology, University of California, Berkeley

Visiting Professor 1995 Department of Sociology, Northwestern University

Department Chair 1996-98 Department of Sociology, University of California, Berkeley

Department Chair 2000-02 Department of Sociology, University of California, Berkeley

Honorary Associate 2001- Sociology of Work Unit, University of Witwatersrand

Visiting Scholar 2002-03 Russell Sage Foundation, New York

Invited Professor 2006 École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales


Professional Positions

Publications Committee 1998-99 American Sociological Association

Member of Council 2000-05 American Sociological Association

President (Elect, Real, Past) 2002-05 American Sociological Association

Chair, Award Committee 2006-09 American Sociological Association

(Excellence in Reporting of Social Issues)

Vice-President for National Associations 2006-2010 International Sociological Association


Honors, Awards, Etc.

William Harper Rainey Fellowship, University of Chicago, 1975-6

Distinguished Teaching Award, University of California, Berkeley, 1979

National Science Foundation Grant SES-83-09042: 1984-87.

Social Science Research Council Fellowships, 1991, 1992

National Science Foundation Grant SES-9212242: 1992-95.

MacArthur Foundation Grant, 1993

National Council for Soviet and East European Studies Grant, 1996-97.

MacArthur Foundation Grant, 2001

Goldman Distinguished Professor in the Social Sciences, University of California, Berkeley, 2002-2007

Distinguished Teaching Award, American Sociological Association, 2003.

Faculty Award for Outstanding Mentorship of GSIs, University of California, Berkeley, 2007.





1972 The Colour of Class o­n the Copper Mines: From African Advancement to Zambianization.

Manchester: Manchester University Press.

1979 Manufacturing Consent: Changes in the Labor Process Under Monopoly Capitalism.

Chicago: University of Chicago Press. (Translated into Spanish, Chinese)

1985 The Politics of Production: Factory Regimes Under Capitalism and Socialism. London: Verso.

(Translated into Korean)

1992 The Radiant Past: Ideology and Reality in Hungary's Road to Capitalism. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. (With János Lukács)

2009 The Extended Case Method: Four Countries, Four Decades, Four Great Transformations, and o­ne Theoretical Tradition (University of California Press)


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 now a book of the same title -- 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, recently 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, seeking to reconstruct it in the light of his research and more broadly in the light of historical challenges of the late 20th and early 21st. centuries.

For an amusing account of his research see Jeff Byles' article in the Village Voice, "Tales of the Kefir Furnaceman," to be found at http://www.villagevoice.com/2001-04-10/arts/tales-of-the-kefir-furnaceman/

In more details is CV: http://burawoy.berkeley.edu/Biography/CV.pdf


Dear Leo,

Much better was my campaign speech which I gave earlier in the week, which I attach ....

Michael Burawoy

July 27, 2010


Facing the Challenges of Global Sociology

An election speech given at the ISA Congress in Gothenburg, July 12, 2010

(Leo Semashkos comments are marked in [])


It is an honor to be standing for election alongside Elisa Reis with whom I have served these last four years o­n the Executive Committee, and Said Arjomand with whom I began graduate school at the University of Chicago, unbelievably, nearly 4 decades ago.

While I am honored to be a candidate for the Presidency of the ISA, I also realize just how difficult an undertaking it will be. Four years of serving as the ISAs Vice-President for National Associations, filled with intense discussions with sociologists all over our planet, have made me acutely aware of the magnitude of the challenges sociology faces as a global discipline. I want to take this opportunity to report to you what I have learned during these 4 years, and how I would take the ISA forward to meet these challenges. [1]

Universities and research establishments around the world face twin threats. o­n the o­ne side the privatization and commodification of knowledge production threaten to turn scholars into appendages of university business offices and their private partners. o­n the other side bureaucratic regulation and mindless ranking systems are stifling exploration of new intellectual terrains and diverting energies away from the investigation of pressing social problems. In a number of countries the twin threats are reinforced by old or new forms of repression. [2]

In this context, sociology is particularly threatened, but sociology has also unusual potential to become a bastion of defense not o­nly against the ascendant privatization and commodification of knowledge, but, more broadly, against new forms of commodifying labor, money, and nature that are generating cumulative crises of the 21st century. Sociology is a potential defense because it takes the standpoint of society -- civil society if you will -- against excessive marketization and statism, but such a defense requires us to forge an active global sociological community, and simultaneously build constituencies beyond the academy. None of this will be easy, but we can make headway by building o­n what the ISA has already accomplished. Concretely, my program would be to erect a global sociology o­n three legs, three Ms Media, Membership, and Message. [3] As President I would make creative use of electronic media, to build a more inclusive and interactive membership, while advancing a global sociological message for all. [4]

Let me begin with electronic media. o­ne of the first things we did in the National Association Liaison Committee was to create a National Association website with templates for all our 57 National Associations where we also posted reports from meetings, volumes o­n regional sociologies, conference proceedings, etc.It is a splendid website. But is anyone looking at it?It is not enough to create beautiful websites, we have to make them participatory, accessible, and accountable to the membership. [5]I have 5 proposals:

First, the electronic newsletter. I think the President of the ISA, as well as Vice-Presidents should send regular reports to the membership o­n their activities.The ISA has a Newsletter that should be upgraded into a vehicle for continuous and two-way communication between leaders and members.

Second, the Electronic-Bulletin. Vineeta Singh has undertaken a labor of love in editing our E-Bulletin. It needs to be made available to the world at large. I would like to make her work more visible and involve more people to assist her. [6]

Third, translations. o­ne of the perennial problems in our association are the languages that divide us. We have discussed this o­n multiple occasions. o­ne thing we can do is to translate into English articles published in languages other than English. I propose to create an electronic journal of translations or to make those part of the E-Bulletin.

Fourth, Portraits of Sociology. Devorah Kalekin Fishman has done a wonderful job creating the International Sociology Review of Books, featuring among other things interviews with sociologists. I would like to complement this with video interviews of sociologists famous and not from different parts of the world, and posted o­n our website, so that we get a better sense of the rich diversity of our community.

Finally, Global Sociology Live!This is my most ambitious project. If elected I propose to run a weekly program o­n global issues with short lectures and/or interviews with sociologists around the world. It will be streamed as an audio recording and posted o­n YouTube. It will create an international audience for a live broadcast of global sociology a sociology with a global message. [7] For example, Emma Porio could talk about the aftermath of the Tsunami from Manila, Jackie Cock could talk about the political significance of the world cup from Johannesburg, Pun Ngai could talk about workers struggles from Guandong, Maggie Abrahams could report o­n domestic violence in New York.

In these ways the medium actual creates the membership, which is my second m. Electronic media can potentially bring us together in new ways, allowing those, who cannot afford to come to world forums and congresses like this o­ne, to participate in our community. But electronic media are not sufficient by themselves. We also need more face-to-face interaction. [8]

There is much to be done in this regard. My priorities include catering better to Junior Sociologists. This is not easy since Junior Sociologists are often the most pre-occupied in building their careers, have fewer material resources, and have the least time for ISA activities. But they are our future, a new generation of ideas, and they are 18% of our membership.[9] We have to provide resources that will bring them together in a meaningful and rewarding fashion. We already have the annual PhD laboratories introduced by Alberto Martinelli but I would like to develop conferences for Junior Sociologists, which would better help them integrate into the ISA, into RCs and NAs.

Another way in which the ISA promotes face-to-face dialogue among its members is through Regional Workshops. Over the past 4 years The National Association Liaison Committee sponsored 7 regional conferences or workshops in Turkey, in Azerbaijan, in Croatia, in Poland, in Cyprus, in South Africa, and in Iran.Such regional meetings along with the meetings of Research Committees are important to bring together sociologists with similar interests, speaking similar languages.Meetings within the region are not o­nly cheaper and more accessible but provide a bridge to the world congresses. They are a small-scale supplement to the exciting meetings of Regional Associations ALAS, APSA, ESA, and AfSA that I attended.

Probably, the most important activity of the NALC was the second conference of National Associations held in Taipei, in March 2009 where we had 61 participants from 43 countries, evenly spread across the world. Here was our own global public sphere in miniature, addressing the theme, Facing an Unequal World: Challenges for a Global Sociology.Our task was to examine the inequalities and dominations that divide us, that is to apply sociology to ourselves a dangerous pastime indeed.The major themes to emerge from this exciting conference included: linguistic domination, unequal material and social resources, privatization of research, and the need to develop alternative theoretical frameworks.

A year later we already have the papers from the conference published in three handsome volumes: Volume I: Latin America and Africa; Volume II: Asia, Volume III: Europe. All 53 papers are freely available at the Conference Website together with audio recording and videos of all the panels.The three volumes together with a short film of the conference made by two sociology students Annie Lin and Ana Villarreal -- have been distributed free to the participants, to national associations and to libraries all over the world.This conference was made possible by funding obtained by the Taiwanese Sociological Association and the Institute of Sociology at Academia Sinica, and by the organizational genius of the Taiwanese team led by Maukuei Chang and Michelle Fei-yu Hsieh. It was an extraordinary event in which the membership exploited media to disseminate the message and message, of course, is my third m.

But what message? At the concluding session in Taipei we had a vibrant discussion of the twin forces facing universities around the world the o­nes I referred to earlier -- o­n the o­ne side the privatization and commodification of knowledge production, and o­n the other side regulation and competitive evaluation. Together these forces are turning universities into commercial enterprises, but also creating arbitrary hierarchies based in an audit culture. So far the E-Bulletin has devoted two issues to the topic. But we needed to look at things more broadly. Accordingly, I developed an ISA blog called Universities in Crisis. Within the space of 5 months we have over 60 assessments of universities from sociologists from 35 countries, assessments that do indeed paint a frightening picture but a picture we need to comprehend if we are to protect ourselves as a discipline.If elected, I will develop this into a bigger project that will bring us together in common cause with other social sciences.

If o­ne message of the Taipei conference highlighted the twin forces of market and state threatening the autonomy and existence of universities world-wide, a second message concerned the way sociology can advance its causes through the building of constituencies, publics, outside the academy. These public sociologies, as I have called them, mean different things to different people, but they all share a common commitment to bring professional sociology to bear o­n the unique and escalating problems of our time. [10] There are now over 20 symposia o­n public sociology published in different journals in different parts of the planet sociologists examining their own field in order to better examine issues of local, national and global concern.

As your representative, over the last 4 years, I have traversed the world many times, visited 29 countries north and south, rich and poor, big and small. I have learned just how dangerous public sociology can be in a country like Iran where quoting Weber can be the shortest road to prison, or Egypt where dissent is all too easily criminalized or the Basque Country where sociologists try to sustain public dialogue in the face of violence. I learnt how public sociology flourishes in a country like Brazil, how it is in retreat in South Africa, how it becomes a major axis of division in Russia, and the subtle forms it assumes in a country like China.I have learned how brave sociologists can be, but also how, in many countries, sociologists are over-taxed with teaching and multiple jobs. For them public sociology is a luxury. Still, even here sociologists show great inventiveness, showing how teaching itself can be public sociology -- teaching that is accountable to student experience and local knowledge.

As some of you may know I think of sociology as having four moments public to be sure, but no less important professional, critical and policy. [11] Each depends upon the others. There can be no public sociology without professional, scientific sociology. Needless to say the configuration of the 4 moments looks very different in different parts of the world. [12] Despite those differences and they are many -- we all face common global pressures, drawing us away from our publics. Sari Hanafi, writing about sociologists in the Middle East, shows how publishing globally can mean perishing locally, and vice versa, publishing locally means perishing globally.He rightly urges us to contest this polarization. [13]

Indeed, we must contest such centrifugal pressures, and, more generally, endeavor to bridge the many geopolitical divides and build a global community of sociologists. [14] We should not weave it from above from the cloth of a single hegemonic universal sociology, but stitch it together from below whether this be through National Associations or Research Committees or other vehicles that recognize and respect the diversity of sociologies.In short, I want to foster a more inclusive and interactive public sphere within our own membership, using new media to forge a global message. This would create a strong partnership among our disparate branches, our Research Committees and National Associations, and in this way forge a more dynamic ISA.[15] Sociology the best sociology matters, not just for us but for others too. The world needs sociology, a global sociology attentive to global issues. [16] That is what drives the program I have outlined, and that is why I am standing for President.


Leo Semashkos comments


I was glad to publish and translate into Russian Michael Burawoy's remarkable election paper as the ISA new President, which he kindly sent me as his main speech o­n the ISA Congress in Gothenburg. This speech unfolds a scale picture of his activity for 4 years and expresses the ISA new strategy and historical turn to essentially other, global, sociology.

The GHA, uniting more 400 members (including more than 15 ISA members) from 48 countries, since the moment of its creation in 2005, practically is engaged in civil society "public sociology out of the academic world and created 20 projects of global harmony published in four books. These projects answer to the most actual inquiries of civil society in its key areas: peacemaking, disarmament, education, religion, culture, economy, policy, youth, children etc. Therefore we are very attentive to the changes of modern sociological thinking in these directions.

In the GHA last, program, book Harmonious Civilization (2009) we come to the conclusion about birth in 2009 of a new, harmonious civilization: http://www.peacefromharmony.org/?cat=en_c&key=379. Or, differently: humankind entered o­n a threshold of harmonious civilization in 2009 which (harmonious civilization) represents the essentially new social reality of modern society; hence, it is a new object for sociological researches. From these positions we consider and estimate the last Congress basic papers and, first of all, the ISA new president paper. (My summary report about the Congress in two planes: visual and mental is presented at address: http://peacefromharmony.org/?cat=en_c&key=434)

The World Congress of Sociology in Gothenburg in July 2010 shown, that and academic sociology feels the new historical turn of society to global harmonious civilization and expresses it in a new concept Global Sociology which makes the centre of Michael Burawoys speech.

GHA and ISA go to understanding of the modern social world from the different sides: from civil society and from the university world, or from public and academic sociology. Naturally, here there is o­ne general question interesting to both sides: could they find today the common things and crossings? In this foreshortening from the mentioned position I have formulated 16 comments to the most important statements of Burawoys speech which are noted by square brackets []. In these comments I have tried to define some directions of two-way sociological movement: institutionalization of the public sociology through ISA and globalisation of the academic sociology through GHA.

I hope, these comments will be interesting to members both ISA and GHA and will serve for them as the general subject of discussion at the turning stage of social thinking and knowledge. GHA will begin discussion of this and others papers and their comments since the end of August 2010.




[1] Sociology is a global discipline. - But in what it is global today? o­nly in geography is it? It faces with the global challenges. - But what is their common meaning? Maybe the challenges of global sociology are the challenges of a new, harmonious civilization o­n a threshold of which humankind raised in 2009? The ISA is forward to meet these challenges. - WHAT the ISA global sociology can be the adequate response to these challenges? Can be this response is the global sociology of harmonious civilization?

[2] It is obvious, that rescue from these threats is out of the academic world and its corporate interests. It lies in civil society and public sociology, expressing its cardinal interests. Therefore it is necessary to support and develop corresponding social researches which will be claimed by civil society. It is researches of birth and development of a new, harmonious, civilization in all spheres of society first of all. Similar researches at all levels: global, regional, national and local, can become an alternative source of financing of the universities and release them, if not completely that substantially, from privatization and commodification (see the Program of new Thematic Group at address: http://peacefromharmony.org/?cat=en_c&key=433). In this aspect the sociology, true position of which is in civil society, instead of corporations, really can become a bastion of defense against the ascendant privatization and commodification of knowledge.

[3] The fourth foot is necessary for global sociology: it is a global civil society with its trend of world harmony or harmonious civilization which is expressed in more than 65 social facts since 1947. These facts are collected and systematized in a first approximation in GHA:


[4] Then global sociological message (mission) finds clear, acceptable and actual for all nations strategic definition of "global harmonious civilization (society). Message is knowledge, and its content and purpose in this case is harmonious civilization which defines its quality, hence, quality of global sociology, its media and its membership.

[5] Yes, it is not enough to create beautiful websites. It is necessary, that they have been penetrated by the common and actual for civil society idea of harmonious civilization. Then they will be claimed and responsible.

[6] This bulletin also should become the tool of continuous two-way communication with the organisations of civil society. The first experience of similar communication ISA with GHA, presented here and added with Burawoys responses, can be a subject of the ISA separate Bulletin which, undoubtedly, will attract general attention.

[7] It is very good, that global sociology becomes the ISA most ambitious project. It is very good, that sociologists of the world will receive a tribune for the global messages. But these messages, beyond o­ne global and common idea, can make o­nly the new tower of Babel. Global sociology needs o­ne mission/message of o­ne harmonious civilization for the different nations, as Earth is o­ne house for all its social diversity.

[8] The new sociological idea of harmonious civilization, acceptable and attractive to the nations and scientists, can become the most effective way of the ISA membership expansion.

[9] Youth priority as the ISA future and as a new generation of ideas also is provided with global sociology of harmonious civilization: youth builds it and youth should understand it and develop its social science. The idea of harmonious civilization allows to integrate all branches of social knowledge o­n the basis of corresponding sociology.

[10] Yes, WHAT is message (mission)? HOW the ISA can become public sociology of civil society and how the sociologists can find in this society the new clientele and new sponsors? WHAT a general aspiration and common commitment will unite different professional sociologists to solve the growing problems of modernity? A harmonious civilization! Could we find the better answer to these questions?

[11] These four moments of sociology are perfectly combined in global sociology of harmonious civilization, getting in it fresh quality and innovativeness. The GHA book Harmonious Civilization illustrates them rather well.

[12] Similarly: global sociology of harmonious civilization will be different in the different parts and countries of the world. The general aspiration is realized through different ways of the different nations and cultures to social harmony. Therefore and its sociology, with its general scientific basis, will be different in different parts of the world.

[13] Polarization of the global and the local reconciles o­n a common denominator of harmonious civilization which is equally important both globally and locally.

[14] Similarly: we can reconcile centrifugal pressures, bridge the many geopolitical divides and build a global community of sociologists probably o­n the same common denominator of harmonious civilization. Could we find other common denominator?

[15] We should not weave it from above: it is the most disputable and contradictory philosophical thesis. If we recognise a thousand flowers in sociology and equality of two-way traffic, including upward and downward, why we should stop and forbid o­ne of them? Why we should tear off the sociology flower "from above" if it recognizes and respects the diversity of sociologies? Sociology of harmonious civilization (SHC) is such: it is impossible without unity of the diversity of sociologies; also as social harmony is impossible without unity of the diversity of the nations, cultures and ways to it. Without sociology "from above" will not be global sociology: it will remain the tower of Babel of the ISA "disparate branches of industrial sociology. Philosophical question of a single and much remains opened and insoluble for this sociology. It is soluble in SHC whose principle is: unity in diversity and diversity in unity that expresses their harmony. Incidentally, this principle became the motto of the European Union. Global sociology can not be a patchwork quilt of the NAs and RCs sociologies: it can be o­nly by their organic unity in the SHC very wide framework. I looked through several hundred abstracts of the sociological Congress and not found among them not o­ne which would not find its place in SHC, of course, in appropriate modifications, but at preservation of the substantial distinction. To prove the thesis: "we should not weave it from above, we should find evidence of rejection of any sociological diversity from SHC. Such facts do not exist today. And they can not be general, as SHC, by harmony definition (harmony is a whole, including all its diversity"), includes and organizes all, without exception, the diversity of sociology but in the corresponding parts and aspects. There is no such direction in it, which would not have found a definite place and partnership with others in SHC. It expresses the TG Program "Global Sociology of Harmonious Civilization" (http://peacefromharmony.org/?cat=en_c&key=433), whose creation in the ISA will initiate its members from GHA together with other sociologists. We intend to invite in this TG about 200 social scientists of different profiles of more than 20 countries. We are confident that this TG program will attract a lot of new members to the ISA, especially young o­nes that will make ISA more dynamic. Of course, SHC itself is pluralistic and involves different approaches. It also meets "the need to develop alternative theoretical frameworks" within the ISA.

[16] Indeed, the world needs today in the global sociology, in sociology better than before, adequate global problems and able to provide their scientific coherent solution to the long evolutionary process of building a harmonious civilization. The better sociology for all and for the sociologists and for the non-sociologists is sociology of born harmonious civilization, for the knowledge which we are responsible before civil society. Of course, the SHC idea requires constant and thorough discussion, which it will find in the ISA corresponding TG. In addition, I propose to devote o­ne of the ISA regional conferences to a theme: "One Global Sociology of Harmonious Civilization: Why it is Necessary and How it is Possible?"


Thus, we see, SHC meets all the ISA strategic directions, which are defined by its new president. SHC strengthens, complements and develops them as an "alternative" theoretical approach "from above", free from "Captive Mind" of outgoing industrialism. In Taipei in 2009 you said about movement from diverse traditions to alternative sociologies and also that the recognition of multiple sociologies is already a challenge to the idea of a single science

(http://www.ios.sinica.edu.tw/cna/download/proceedings/01.Burawoy.Introduction.pdf). SHC overcomes that challenge. SHC does not exclude, but organizes and enhances the traditions of pluralism of sociologies. At the same time SHC develops Margaret Archers and Peter Sztompkas desire to unify sociology.

The idea of a harmonious civilization and its sociology is wandering in the paper as it wandered and o­n the Congress. It found support in the personal conversations with a keynote speaker, Nobel Laureate Prof. Lee of Taiwan; Chinese sociologists, whose country is building a harmonious society since 2006; Indian sociologists: Ananta Giri and Maitreyee Roy; Russian sociologists: Sergei Kravchenko, member of the ISA EC, Dina Tanatova, Denis Zuev, Vladimir Ilyin and others; the GHA members: Bernard Scott, RC51 President and others.It was shared by Ernesto Kahan, Nobel Peace Laureate 1985 and the GHA Vice-president before. It also received a positive response from Sergei Mironov, Chairman, Parliament's Upper Chamber, Russian Federation (http://www.peacefromharmony.org/?cat=en_c&key=407).

All this let us hope for a positive attitude of the ISA leadership to establish the ISA TG "Global Sociology of Harmonious Civilization", the original Program of which is published at:



Dr Leo Semashko

President, Global Harmony Association (GHA)

August 15, 2010


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