The American Sociologist

, Volume 38, Issue 3, pp 262–287 | Cite as

Doing Public Sociology in the Field—A Strong Sociological Intervention Project in China



Through the in-depth analysis of the features of Huabei rural industrialization, the unique factory regime in Baigou, Hebei, and the resulting special workers, this paper reveals two dilemmas the migrant workers in Baigou and larger Hubei area face: Because of the interpersonal network of labor market, personalized trade, familial labor process, and patrimonial management, the workers are unable to become either industrial working class or citizens. Facing this special group of workers, we still believe in their power of self-liberation. Drawing on Touraine’s action sociology and sociological intervention, and Burawoy’s public sociology and praxis-oriented research, we modify “sociological intervention” according to the reality of Chinese society and propose the methodology of “strong sociological intervention” whose vehicle is “Baigou Migrant Worker Night School.” The night school provided workers with courses of labor law, English, and computer based on their actual needs. Labor law is the core to evoke the self-consciousness of the workers. Through communications in the night school and workers’ real living circumstances, we collected their true information and treated it as the source of sociological knowledge. After three sessions of night school training, workers showed changes in skills, social, and psychological aspects, laying a foundation for the growth of self-consciousness.


Factory regime Publics Social action Sociological intervention 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science + Business Media, LLC 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of CaliforniaBerkeleyUSA

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