Michael Burawoy

Research Expertise and Interest

sociology, Russia, capitalism, industrial workplaces, postcolonialism, socialism, global ethnography, Hungary

Research Description

Michael Burawoy has studied industrial workplaces in different parts of the world -- Zambia, Chicago, Hungary and Russia -- through participant observation. In his different projects he has tried to cast light -- from the standpoint of the workplace -- on the nature of postcolonialism, on the organization of consent to capitalism, on the peculiar forms of working class consciousness and work organization in state socialism, and finally on the dilemmas of transition from socialism to capitalism. Most recently he has been studying the peculiar form of capitalism that has arisen in Russia: how the economy has been driven by the expansion of a range of intermediary organizations operating in the sphere of exchange (trade, finance, barter, new forms of money), and how the productive economy has been recentered on households and especially women. He refers to these processes of decline as "involution". He has developed theoretically driven methodologies that allow him to draw broad conclusions from his ethnographic research and case studies. Thus, most recently he coauthored a book with 9 graduate students on "Global Ethnography," that showed how globalization can be studied "from below" through participation in the lives of those who experience it. 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 century. For an amusing account of his research see Jeff Byles' article in the Viliage Voice, "Tales of the Kefir Furnaceman," to be found at http://www.villagevoice.com/issues/0115/edbyles.php

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