Public Sociology and the Sociological Imagination: Revisiting Burawoy’s Sociology Types

Mohammad H. Tamdgidi published the refereed article titled “Public Sociology and the Sociological Imagination: Revisiting Burawoy’s Sociology Types,” in Humanity & Society, vol. 32, issue 2, 2008:131-143.

Reflecting on Michael Burawoy’s classification of sociology into professional, critical, policy, and public types, and the adoption of the latter as the theme of the ASA’s 99th Annual Meeting, in this article Tamdgidi argues that the drive toward public sociologies of new global realities may prove hazardous in the absence of a parallel emphasis on the development of reflexive private sociologies. This requires critical reconsideration of our basic definitions of society and sociology in order to develop theoretical frameworks that meet the challenges of understanding and practicing the dialectics of public and private social processes devoid of rigid pre-determinist frameworks. Proposing an alternative reconsideration of Burawoy’s sociology types away from a formal logical framework and in favor of the part-whole dialectic, the author argues that even though personal troubles can best be understood in relation to broader public issues, the latter themselves can most effectively be recognized, understood, and practically addressed through the actions of specific agencies who champion the need for broader socio-historical knowledge and change as deeply personal exercises in self-knowledge and self-transformation. As C. Wright Mills emphasized, what sparks the sociological imagination is the intersection of history and biography. 

This journal article can be accessed here. The journal issue as part of which the article was published can be accessed here.