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

Article

Abstract

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.

Keywords

Factory regime Publics Social action Sociological intervention 

References

  1. Burawoy, M. (1985). The politics of production: Factory regimes under capitalism and socialism. London: Verso.Google Scholar
  2. Burawoy, M. (2003). For a sociological Marxism: The complementary convergence of Antonio Gramsci and Karl Polanyi. Politics and Society, 31(2), 193–261.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Burawoy, M. (2005a). For public sociology. American Sociological Review, 70, 4–28.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Burawoy, M. (2005b). Third-wave sociology and the end of pure science. The American Sociologist, 152–165.Google Scholar
  5. Burawoy, M. (2005c). The critical turn to public sociology. Critical Sociology, 31(3), 313–326.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Burawoy, M. (2006). A public sociology for human right. Introduction to Judith Blau and Keri Iyall-Smith, public sociologies reader.. UK: Rowman and Littlefield.Google Scholar
  7. Chakrabarty, D. (1989). Rethinking working class history. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  8. Deutscher, T. (2002). Gazing at the disciplinary bellybutton: A review essay on ‘liberation sociology.. Contemporary Sociology, 31(4), 379–382.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Feagin, J. R., & Vera, H. (2001). Liberation sociology. Boulder, CO: Westview.Google Scholar
  10. Freire, P. (1970). Pedagogy of the oppressed. New York: Continuum.Google Scholar
  11. Hsiao-Chuan, H. (2003). The localization of praxis-oriented research: The case of ‘foreign brides literacy programs’. Taiwan: A radical Quarterly in Social Studies, 49, 1–48.Google Scholar
  12. Nee, V., & Stark, D. (1989). Toward an institutional analysis of state socialism. Remaking the economic institutions of socialism: China and Eastern Europe. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.Google Scholar
  13. Polanyi, K. (1944). The great transformation. New York: Farrar and Rinehart.Google Scholar
  14. Shen, Y. (2006a). Social transformation and the re-formation of working class. Sociological Studies, 2, 13–36.Google Scholar
  15. Shen, Y. (2006b). Strong sociological intervention and weak sociological intervention: Two approaches of sociological intervention. Sociological Studies, 5, 1–25.Google Scholar
  16. Sun, L. (2003). Cleavage—Chinese society since 1990s. Beijing: Social Sciences Documentation Publishing House.Google Scholar
  17. Tong, G. (2005). Family factory workers in Bei Township. Collection of Master Dissertation of Peking, Tsinghua and Renmin Univeristy. Shandong: Shandong People’s Press.Google Scholar
  18. Touraine, A. (1965). Sociologie de L’ Action. Paris: Editions du Seuil.Google Scholar
  19. Touraine, A. (1981). The voice and the eye: An analysis of social movements. Translated by Alan Duff. New York: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  20. Touraine, A. (1987). Return of the actor. Translated by Myrna Godzich and Foreword by Stanley Aronowitz. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science + Business Media, LLC 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of CaliforniaBerkeleyUSA

Personalised recommendations