Seminar on "From ‘critical engagement’ to ‘public sociology’ and back: a critique from the South"

WISER is hosting an online seminar presented by Karl von Holdt on Monday 28 September 2020 at 16h00


"From ‘critical engagement’ to ‘public sociology’ and back: a critique from the South"


Please read the paper prior to the seminar, you can find the paper here


Register in advance for this Zoom meeting at https://wits-za.zoom.us/meeting/register/tJ0pc-itrzoqGNdr-0zo_9-xD93xGJ9Ypr06

Abstract :  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 SWOP in Johannesburg, South Africa, and replace it with the concept of ‘critically engaged sociology’ – ‘engaged sociology’ for short – which emerges through interaction between sociologists and movements in the struggle for change, and which captures more clearly than ‘public sociology’ the richness and complexity of this kind of engagement. Doing this entails the simultaneous critique of the North Atlantic domination of global sociology and the production of a southern theory that provides a better concept of our world – and this is done by retracing a four decade process of concept formation and dialogue between Burawoy and, notably, Eddie Webster, one of South Africa’s most eminent sociologists and SWOP founder, as well as others at SWOP.


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