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From ‘critical engagement’ to ‘public sociology’ and back

When: Monday, 12 October 2020 - Monday, 12 October 2020
Where: Online Event
Start time:16:00


Register in advance via

Cost: Free

The Wits Institute for Social and Economic Research invites you to a discussion with Dr Karl von Holdt.

Please read the paper by von Holdt prior to the seminar.

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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