Michael Burawoy, Professor of Sociology at University of California Berkeley and former president of the American Sociological Association (ASA) and International Sociological Association (ISA) is one of the world’s leading sociologists and ethnographers of labor. He has studied industrial workplaces throughout the world using participant observation—an ethnographic practice in which he spends extended periods of time laboring as a member of the working class. For his research, Burawoy has spent time working in copper mines in Zambia, in a machine shop in South Chicago, in a champagne factory in Hungary, and in a steel plant in Russia.
Through this work he has sought to develop general theories about the nature of human labor, the despotic operation of the industrial workplace, and the relative ability of workers to resist and consent to their shop floor subordination and the imperatives of production. During his career, Burawoy has examined the dynamics of human labor under industrial capitalism, state socialism, colonialism, and postcolonial and postsocialist orders. One of his earliest books, Manufacturing Consent, based on an ethnographic study of a Chicago machine shop, examined how working class consent under industrial capitalism was organized by the production process itself.