The Modern Prince and the Sociological Imagination. Michael Burawoy in Conversation with Riccardo Emilio Chesta


  • Riccardo Emilio Chesta Center on Social Movement Studies, Scuola Normale Superiore in Florence (COSMOS)
  • Michael Burawoy University of California, Berkeley



Bourdieu through Gramsci, Capitalism, Intellectuals, Public Sociology, Social Movements, Sociological Imagination, Theorizing


In this conversation, Michael Burawoy discusses how he discovered the sociology of Gramsci in radically diverse contexts — from a vibrant post-colonial Zambia to Analytical Marxism in Chicago. The British sociologist reconnects the travels of these debates to contemporary public sociology, updating Gramsci’s key sociological concepts with the critical scholarship of Pierre Bourdieu, the social anthropology of Jaap Van Velsen and Raja Jayaraman, and the political economy of Karl Polanyi. These somehow real and imaginary conversations with social theorists bring Burawoy to stress the importance of reflexivity in sociological research. This means that sociological imagination is fostered through a constant dialectical relation between the art of theorizing and the “concrete phantasies” of social movements, which are well exemplified in Wright’s “real utopias.” Moreover, in Burawoy’s view, a new “Modern Prince” is urgently needed today and it is a public sociology which recognizes the mission of his critical knowledge against marketization.


Adorno, T.W. (1978). Minima Moralia. Reflections from Damaged Life. London, UK: Verso.

Brint, S. (2005). Guide for the Perplexed: On Michael Burawoy’s "Public Sociology. The American Sociologist, 36(3–4), 46–65.

Bourdieu, P. (1977). Outline of a Theory of Practice. London, UK: Cambridge University Press.

Bourdieu, P. (1984). Distinction. A Social Critique of the Judgment of Taste. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Bourdieu, P. (2000). Pascalian Meditations. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.

Bourdieu, P., Chamboredon, J.C., & Passeron, J.C. (1991). The Craft of Sociology. Epistemological Preliminaries. Berlin & New York: Walter De Gruyter.

Burawoy, M. (1972). The Colour of Class on the Copper Mines. From African Advancement to Zambianization. Manchester, UK: Manchester University Press.

Burawoy, M. (1979). Manufacturing Consent. Changes in the Labor Process Under Monopoly Capitalism. Chicago, Illinois: University of Chicago Press.

Burawoy, M. (2005). For Public Sociology. American Sociological Review, 70(1), 4–28.

Burawoy, M. (2015). Facing an Unequal World. Current Sociology, 63(1), 5–34.

Burawoy, M., & Von Holdt, K. (2012). Conversations with Bourdieu. The Johannesburg Moment. Johannesburg, ZA: Wits University Press.

Calhoun, C. (2005). The Promise of Public Sociology. The British Journal of Sociology, 56(3), 355–363.

Clawson, D., Zussman, R., Misra, J., Gerstel, N., Stokes, R., Anderton, D.L., & Burawoy, M. (Eds.). (2007). Public Sociology: Fifteen Eminent Sociologists Debate Politics and the Profession in the Twenty-First Century. Berkeley; Los Angeles; London: University of California Press.

Fanon, F. (1963). The Wretched of the Earth, Marxist Bible of Third World Revolution. New York: Grove Press.

Francis. (2013). Apostolic Exhortation. Rome: Vatican Press.

Gramsci, A. (1992). Prison Notebooks. NY: Columbia University Press.

Mills, C.W. (1948). The New Men of Power. America’s Labor Leaders. Chicago: University of Illinois Press.

Mills, C.W. (1951). The White Collars. The American Middle-Classes. NY: Oxford University Press.

Mills, C.W. (1956). The Power Elite. NY: Oxford University Press.

Mills, C.W. (1959). The Sociological Imagination. NY: Oxford University Press.

Piketty, T. (2013). Capital in the Twenty-first Century. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.

Poulantzas, N. (1975). Political Power and Social Classes. London, Uk: NLB Sheed & Ward.

Przeworski, A. (1986). Capitalism and Social Democracy. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Przeworski, A., & Sprague, J. (1986). Paper Stones: A History of Electoral Socialism. Chicago: Chicago University Press.

Van Velsen, J. (1964). The Politics of Kinship. A Study in Social Manipulation among the Lakeside Tonga of Nyasaland. Manchester,UK: Manchester University Press.

Wright, E.O. (2010). Envisioning Real Utopias. London, UK: Verso.




How to Cite

Chesta, R. E., & Burawoy, M. (2019). The Modern Prince and the Sociological Imagination. Michael Burawoy in Conversation with Riccardo Emilio Chesta. Sociologica, 13(1), 83–96.