Keywords: Burawoy, public sociology, epistemology of the social sciences, cultural anthropology, multiculturalism.
Is there a public role for the social sciences? In this paper, I offer some remarks on this topic from the point of view of cultural anthropology. Burawoy's essay (Sociologica 1, 2007) strongly makes the case for a "public sociology" as distinct from "professional" and "critical" sociology. In the first part of the paper I criticize this distinction, arguing it is grounded on weak epistemological bases. In the second part I discuss the notion of a "public use" of anthropology and social sciences, in the sense of their participation in "public conversation". The third part is focused on Italian anthropological studies and their difficulties in playing a part in public debates on multicultural topics.