Michael Burawoy, sociologist of work, to present IU Patten Lectures

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Michael Burawoy, one of the world's leading sociologists and ethnographers of work, will present the final Indiana University Patten Lectures of the 2017-18 academic year March 27 and 29 on the IU Bloomington campus.

Burawoy has studied industrial workplaces through participant observation in Zambia, Chicago, Hungary and Russia, seeking to develop general theories about the nature of labor, the despotism of the industrial workplace and the inability of workers to resist subordination. He is a professor of sociology at the University of California, Berkeley.

He will be on the IU Bloomington campus from March 26 to 29. His Patten Lectures, both from 7:30 to 9 p.m. in Presidents Hall in Franklin Hall, will cover:

  • March 27 -- "Universities in Crisis." Burawoy argues that the university is under assault from economic and political forces, leading to domination by professional and policy functions and giving rise to fiscal, administrative, identity and legitimation crises.
  • March 29 -- "Marxism Engages Bourdieu." He will examine responses to Marxism in the work of French sociologist Pierre Bourdieu and Italian philosopher Antonio Gramsci, focusing on theories of cultural domination.

Burawoy has examined the dynamics of human labor under industrial capitalism, state socialism, colonialism, and postcolonial and postsocialist orders. His book "Manufacturing Consent: Changes in the Labor Process under Monopoly Capitalism" is based on an ethnographic study of a Chicago factory where he spent 10 months as a machine operator and examines how worker consent is organized by the production process.

Methodologically, Burawoy practices and defends what he calls the "extended case method," which says that, if you want to understand how human beings live, you should go into the field and ask them -- repeatedly, over time, and in different contexts.

A former president of the American Sociological Association and the International Sociological Association, he has championed "public sociology" that makes sociological work accessible to nonacademic audiences and includes nonacademic sources in producing knowledge.

The William T. Patten Foundation

The William T. Patten Foundation, endowed by a student of the Indiana University class of 1893, provides generous funds to bring to the Bloomington campus for a week people of extraordinary national and international distinction in the sciences, humanities and arts. Inquiries about the Patten Foundation, the Patten Lecture Series and future nominations may be directed to vpfaa@indiana.edu.