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John King / Literature in the sociologies of intellectuals and interventions / 1 Literature in the sociologies of intellectuals and interventions

The sociology of intellectuals Louis Sebastien Mercier‘s description of the role of scholars in society, written in 1797, will already be familiar to contemporary social scientists: ―The good books are dependent on the enlightened people in all classes of the nation; they are an ornament to truth. They are the ones that already govern Europe; they enlighten the government about its duties, its shortcoming, its true interest, about the public opinion to which it must listen and conform: these good books are patient masters, waiting for the moment when the state administrators wake up and when their passions die down.‖ (Habermas 1991, pp.95-96). Questions of scholarly autonomy and allegiance are central to works in the classical sociology of intellectuals. Positioned between a state which sought to bring them under royal patronage — in the French case through the institutions of the Académie Française and the Académie des Sciences (Jennings 2003) — and a critical public sphere which revolved around the salons of France, reading societies of Germany and coffee houses of England, scholars‘ quest for autonomy from political or religious control was founded on the valorization of disinterestedness and rationality (Sapiro 2012). Within the universities, the higher faculties (applied sciences) of theology, law and medicine trained ministers, judges and doctors, and were subject to control by the state; the lower faculties, represented by philosophers, were directed by pure reason alone and were independent of government. Universities were briefly the centre of a public sphere constituted ―not merely of scholars and subtle reasoners but also of business people or women‖ (Kant 1956; in Habermas 1991, p.106) which held openly critical discussions before the government and the people. In salons and bourgeois homes, philosophers engaged in arguments with mixed participants, supporting civic engagement in the rational communicative processes of opinion forming (Habermas 1991). The division of expert labour in the nineteenth century saw the emergence of specialists and the exclusion of laymen (Sapiro 2012). Scholars‘ quest for autonomy from religious or political control entailed the construction of boundaries (Gieryn 1983) which demarcated spaces for activity unencumbered by state — and consequently, by the public. By defining science as that which incorporates certain intellectual practices, methods, repositories, and values, a strong social boundary could be drawn to distinguish its

which secured the professional status of knowledge work. the bourgeoisie had become established within society to the extent that they had lost their sense of having a mission to fulfil (Habermas 1991). their work was abstract and is not aimed toward the accomplishment of practical ends. The fundamental question for this sociology (which is reviewed by Eyal & Buchholz (2010) and includes works from Benda. The imposition of boundaries. and they were politically engaged — in sum. Derided as ‗the intellectuals‘ by their opponents. Gramsci and Gouldner) was to what or to whom did intellectuals owe their allegiance to. academics and journalists — professions which by now had little in common and were socially dispersed — to come together with a mission to intervene publicly in support of Dreyfus in the name of justice and equality (Baert & Booth 2012). tradition. The sociology of intellectuals — written by intellectuals themselves ―in need of a myth of origin or meta-history to explain to themselves who they were and where their allegiances lay‖ (Eyal & Buchholz 2010. As radical social critics involved with revolutionary movements. When technical advances enabled the development of mass media. Jennings 2003). Schumpeter. intellectuals were accused of interfering with matters which were not within their competence. By the middle of the nineteenth century. or engagement to support or protest the actions of the state (Sapiro 2012).122) — examines the historical development of intellectuals as a distinct social group and laments their apparent decline. the political agency of the prototypical intellectual was a . value or cause was the primary motivation for intellectuals formed the centre of structural-functionalist analyses of intellectuals‘ attitudes and positions.John King / Literature in the sociologies of intellectuals and interventions / 2 practitioners from non-scientists. this label was adopted by the group and used as a device to bring about the creation of a new ‗heroic‘ and informed public which claimed reason as its own (Bauman 1987. p.175). artists. p. the public sphere became divided into ―minorities of specialists who put their reason to use nonpublicly and the great mass of consumers whose receptiveness is public but uncritical‖ (Habermas 1991. class. they were committed to universal values. Mannheim. required participants in the now divided public sphere to adopt one of two postures: withdrawal to the ivory tower and scholarship for its own sake. politicians and technical experts in a single domain. as they became reintegrated into the machinery of the state. The affair the catalyst for a group of novelists. an accusation foreshadowed by Napoleon‘s denunciation of ineffectual theoreticians ungrounded in practical affairs (Kellner 1995). Eyal & Buchholz 2010. A determination of whether truth. Classical definitions of intellectuals shared four broad criteria: intellectuals were a distinct social type in opposition to laypeople. the Dreyfus affair offered to fill the void.

‗permanent persuader‘ and not just a simple orator‖ (in Crick 2006. revolutionary intellectual was not to survive. Sartre propounded a vision of the total intellectual who. criticising power means participating in alignments which provide alternatives to those of the status quo (Rouse 1994). as the grand contest about how society should be organised is resolved in favour of the market. Hudson (2003) identifies two mid-twentieth century epochal shifts which influenced the position of contemporary intellectuals. originally identified by Habermas. Foucault argued that to make a claim to knowledge is to try to strengthen some epistemic alignments and to challenge others. positioned as outsiders.John King / Literature in the sociologies of intellectuals and interventions / 3 capacity to use abstract knowledge to intervene in the public sphere in the name of universal values (Eyal & Buchholz 2010). second. which is not exactly the same as bad. like the Dreyfusards. however. If everything is dangerous.and pessimistic activism. authors stretched the definition of the intellectual away from its prototype and made arguments for an allegiance to certain causes. critical of intellectuals who placed themselves above and apart from the influence of class interests. then we always have something to do. Determining that the specific intellectual ―uses his knowledge.119) shifted attention away from who the intellectual is — as a category of person — and toward her political agency and the context of her intervention: in his view. often on normative grounds. A ‗bohemian‘ set of intellectuals. the approach of the ‗end of ideology‘. his competence and his relation to truth in the field of political struggles‖. ―My point is not that everything is bad. the related consumerisation and mediatisation of the public sphere. he later worked for revolutionary causes and founded radical newspapers (Kellner 1995). Foucault argued against Sartre‘s grand programme for the universal intellectual. First. intellectuals should make situated interventions to draw attention to particular problems. p. The romantic notion of the radical. p. I think that the . autonomous intellectual. saw the complacency in this assertion and argued for the contingency of knowledge upon power. Foucault (in Eyal & Buchholz 2010.129). Rather than appealing to a ‗sovereign‘ epistemic standpoint which is in some way outside of the conflicts it is used to adjudicate. promoted the ideal of the purposeful organic intellectual who pursued working class interests as ―constructor. Gramsci. So my position leads not to apathy but to a hyper. was willing to intervene in a wide range of political affairs. organizer. recommending instead that intellectuals restrict themselves to intervening in the public sphere only where they are competent to do so (Kellner 1995. Baert & Booth 2012). but that everything is dangerous. Concerned to reestablish the romantic notion of the radical.

such an accusation reverberates. What is the role of intellectuals in the contemporary ‗knowledge society‘ (Stehr 1994) if public life no longer celebrates general intellectual authority (Small 2002) based on the traditional authoritarian and elitist model (Cummings 2003)? The answer. In a nation which possesses universities proud of their long tradition of public service. substances. Rather than indurately owing the entirety of their allegiance to the cause of truth or to material interests. Intellectuals were accused of having become domesticated into to the comfortable suburban life of the university and consequently of losing their ability to converse with the public (Baert & Booth 2012).119): the activities. as Eyal & Buchholz suggest.John King / Literature in the sociologies of intellectuals and interventions / 4 ethico-political choice we have to make every day is to determine which is the main danger. each actor within the field possesses complex networks of allegiances and oppositions whilst . Combined with the activist intellectuals‘ addiction to revolutionary causes — which following the fall of communism and fascism appears naive. but that their stance prevents them from engaging a wider public in the first place. rationales. Intellectual fields Bourdieu constitutes fields as sites of discursive struggle between actors occupying varying relative positions conferring greater or lesser levels of symbolic capital. but the maintenance of the status quo. What matters is to understand ―the movement by which knowledge acquires value as public intervention‖ (Eyal & Buchholz 2010. methods and desired outcomes of interventions through which intellectuals change society (Osborne 2004).‖ (Rouse 1994) Hudson (2003) argues that epistemological relativism in the manner of Foucault celebrates the fragmentation of the public sphere into a thousand specialised discourses and supports not oppositional intellectual positions. with all that remains being to solve narrow technical issues. p. as its proponents claim. In America the publication of Jacoby‘s The Last Intellectuals in 1987 (Jacoby 1987) ignited a debate about the decline of the ‗public intellectual‘ — a (redundant) neologism attributed to Jacoby but in fact used thirty years earlier by C. Wright Mills (McLemee 2007). may more likely be found in a sociology of interventions than in a sociology of intellectuals. the problem is not that intellectuals lose their critical distance through prolonged exposure to institutions of the state. and damaged the reputation of Sartrean intellectuals (Jennings 2003) — the absence of any serious challenge to the prevailing ideological consensus left few grounds upon which to oppose the assertion that the fundamental problematic of society has been resolved.

for example by introducing formal quantitative methods. Sapiro 2003). the literary field. or which widen their focus to examine intellectuals operating in the interstitial world of think tanks (Medvetz 2012) or compare the intellectual fields of European nations (Sapiro 2009a). Conversely. etc. and the way they conduct their interventions (Charle 1990. the applied sciences. at one end. autonomy and specificity — to explain the distribution of modes of political intervention. structure and transformation of intellectual fields which pay particular attention to the autonomy of the overall field (Bourdieu 1988.). Those who occupy a dominated position within the field must carry on their struggle against orthodoxy by politicising their protest and drawing upon others for collective or institutional support. is signified by symbolic capital. Eyal 2000. specific. Sapiro's modes of intervention Sapiro (2009b) utilises three dimensions of intellectual fields — symbolic capital. Posner 2009). Kauppi 1996) and the effects of media exposure (Jacobs & Townsley 2011). dominant or dominated. their success and failure. Ringer 1992. The result is a matrix of eight idealtypical modes which incorporate several existing models of the intellectual (organic. Generalist Specialist . The third dimension is the degree to which the activity of the intellectual is specialised.John King / Literature in the sociologies of intellectuals and interventions / 5 a general tendency toward autonomy or heteronomy is maintained at the level of the field. works which analyse how individual intellectuals or models of intellectual emerged in the French literary field. dominant intellectuals may universalise their interests in a depoliticised form. and works which move further away from analysing the allegiance of intellectuals or the autonomy of their field to examine the forms of engagement practised by intellectuals (Sapiro 2009b. Boschetti 1988. Sapiro emphasises that intellectuals may move from one posture to another. Position within the intellectual field. Eyal & Buchholz (2010) identify three main strands of literature which employ intellectual field analysis: works which investigate the genesis. The second dimension refers to the intellectual‘s independence from external influences. at the other. Gramsci‘s organic intellectual subordinates their own interests to those of their cause.

situated between the world of ideas and the world of political action. Dreyfusards. teams of social scientists should act as a ‗collective intellectual‘ in the public interest by using their knowledge of the operation of .132). the principal challenge for a sociology of interventions is to reconcile the notion of action in fuzzily bounded interstitial domains with a seemingly incommensurable field analysis founded upon a conception of (relatively) autonomous fields with (relatively) distinct boundaries. and international relations literature on epistemic communities. were a coalition brought together by shared values and common interests. p. Foucauldian work on governmentality (the ‗art of government‘).John King / Literature in the sociologies of intellectuals and interventions / 6 Autonomy Heteronomy Autonomy specialised critical Heteronomy specialist advising the government (expert) Dominant universalistic critical intellectual moralising defender of the intellectual (Foucauldian established order specific intellectual) universalistic critical intellectual collective Dominated (vanguard or collectives defending a universal cause) generalist institutional intellectual specialised critical collective (Bourdieusian collective intellectual) specialised institutional intellectual The sociology of interventions Eyal & Buchholz (2010) draw together two bodies of literature to outline a sociology of interventions: Bourdieusian works on the sociology of intellectual fields. In their view ―the transition from the sociology of intellectuals to the sociology of interventions entails not only decentering the agency of intervention [by distributing agency across multiple actors and performative systems] and multiplying the modes of intervention. For Bourdieu. but also reenvisioning the space along which the movement of intervention proceeds‖ (Eyal & Buchholz 2010. Because interventions take place in an ‗interstitial domain‘ with ambiguous boundaries. and a sociology of expertise which encompasses work from the social studies of science and technology (SSST). the original intellectuals.

but the term was already in use to describe scientific communities following a paradigm in the style of Kuhn (Haas 1992). Rather than interests predefining participants‘ positions on an issue. Contemporary scholars have sought to understand the capacity of intellectual networks. Issue networks and epistemic communities Heclo (Heclo 1978) describes a policy-making process which is increasingly ―becoming an intramural activity among expert issue-watchers. 2001). and their networks of networks‖. the characteristics of expertise which offer grounds upon which intervention may be legitimated (Collins & Evans 2007). 2006). the ability of non-professionals to develop expertise and generate new knowledge on specific topics. and how political power is conditioned with certain implicit rationalities and discourses (Foucault 2007. The paradigm case was that of Cumbrian sheep farmers studied by Brian Wynne. or epistemic communities. Expertise and performativity The phenomenon of ‗lay expertise‘. intersubjective criteria for assessing the validity of knowledge and a set of common practices. Some epistemic communities could perhaps be characterised as ‗scientific‘ issue networks. The concept of epistemic communities in relation to international policy change was introduced by Haas. but neither the . whose knowledge of the ecology of sheep inhabiting land contaminated by fallout from the Chernobyl disaster was ignored by government scientists (Collins & Evans 2002). with policymaking distributed across a variety of actors and locations (Ball & Exley 2010). Rose et al. These ‗issue networks‘ comprise a large number of individuals who constantly move in and out of networks. They share normative and causal beliefs.John King / Literature in the sociologies of intellectuals and interventions / 7 cultural fields (Swartz 2003. led SSST scholars to refocus their interest away from the characteristics of experts and towards understanding owhat constitutes expertise. but policy communities gather around specific fields and organisations (Stone et al. to support intervention in public affairs (Haas 1992). The sheep farmers had sufficient local expertise to be able to contribute to the science. Epistemic communities are networks of professionals who are able to make authoritative claims to policy-relevant knowledge in a particular domain by virtue of expertise. the way technologies and theories — such as economic models — not only analyse and predict but also ‗perform‘ and shape society (Callon 1998). Baert & Booth 2012). their networks. In the ‗postmodern state‘ (Richards & Smith 2002) no one is in control. intellectual or emotional commitment drives participation in a network.

and innovations. Studies of governmentality offer accounts which explain the behaviour of government in terms of the roles of ideas. the question of how knowledge is injected into society and with what effects. but what constitutes a network is more broadly defined. With roots in an Actor-Network Theory which refuses to ‗privilege‘ the human and so includes within the network construct non-human actors such as scientific theories. locally applicable techniques. 2006). which may be applied to a population. strategies. 2006). in Rose et al. Governmentality approaches a similar problematic to that of performativity. The performativity literature also attributes effects to networks. in his Afterword to Power/Knowledge (Foucault 2007) differentiates three concepts from Foucault‘s approach: technologies.John King / Literature in the sociologies of intellectuals and interventions / 8 farmers nor the scientists possessed interactional expertise of a kind which would enable such a contribution to be realised. legitimate and verify the contribution. Gordon. yet in the event failed to materialise. Fourcade-Gourinchas 2009.86). the practices and instruments of government. the calculations and tactics. Fourcade-Gourinchas 2001). procedures. In this case the expertise was not possessed by any individual or group but was a potentiality in a scientist-farmer network which could propose. rationales and theories. which move. such as insurance. but from an opposite direction: rather than asking how theory shapes society. ideologies. economic models. analyses and reflections. such as social work or family allowances (Rose et al. these are programs. Eyal & Buchholz 2010). The visibility of economists in recent years as policy advisors and media commentators has ensured that economics has been of particular interest to performativity scholars (FourcadeGourinchas 2003. governmentality is an ―ensemble formed by the institutions. such as the practical technologies of economics. Governmentality The concept of governmentality was introduced by Foucault during the 1970s in the course of his investigation of the birth of liberalism and its adoption by the state (Rose et al. that allow the exercise of this very specific albeit complex form of power‖ (Foucault 1979. p. such as the concept of social security. the locus of agency in a performative analysis is located not in a particular expert or community but in an ‗assemblage‘ of all of the above (Callon 1998. . which sufficiently format reality to enable specific and coherent activities. it asks how government becomes permeated with particular modes of thought (Eyal & Buchholz 2010). As a certain mentality of government linking political ideas with action. 2006. materials and computer programs. tools and techniques.

Woolgar discusses how organizations ‗configure the user‘ to accept a new idea by giving them a sense of ownership over it (Woolgar 1991). and going further to adopt an idea requires a reconfiguration of social networks and an acceptance of certain structures of expertise and authority (Woolgar 2004). Configuring the user Acceptance of an idea relies upon more than the inherent features of the idea itself. enabling their proponents — new types of intellectuals who Osborne (2004) dubs ‗mediators‘ — to successful transit ideas across boundaries. Woolgar terms this a ‗constitutive‘ perspective on ideas: in opposition to essentialist perspectives which imbue ideas with intrinsic characteristics that enable them to act on people (a ‗romantic‘ perspective). sometimes requiring support for their successful passage (‗modified romanticism‘). Vehicular ideas are open. the product of a different type of intellectual or political actor.452). the acceptance of academic ideas outside the academic sphere means in some way bringing the recipient into some sort of alignment with the language-game from which the idea originated. Vehicular ideas and epistemic forms McLennan & Osborne introduce the concept of ‗vehicular‘ ideas such as the ‗Third Way‘ or ‗knowledge society‘(McLennan & Osborne 2003) which are inclusive rather than divisive and ‗move things along‘ by carrying people with them. Vehicular ideas are contrasted with ‗oracular‘ or ‗ocular‘ ideas. p. in Governing the Soul (Rose 1999) Nikolas Rose addresses the contribution of the human and social sciences to the strategies. technologies and programs of government. as academic texts persuade and ultimately configure (or fail to configure) their readers to accept the ideas expounded within them. it means ―buying into a new configuration of social relations with the producing organization/organizers‖ (Woolgar 2004). Merely acknowledging that an idea exists means accepting certain claims about how knowledge is produced. They address the transition of ideas and systems across boundaries and networks. the ‗legislator‘ (or classical intellectual) who specifies how things are and how things will be. Osborne (2004) draws upon Zygmunt Bauman‘s distinction between modern and postmodern intellectuals to outline .John King / Literature in the sociologies of intellectuals and interventions / 9 ‗perform‘ and format individuals to think and behave in certain ways. somewhat ambiguous and capable of local reinterpretation. the constitutive perspective argues that ideas are ―constituted in and through the processes of their articulation and representation‖ (Woolgar 2004. mobile.

how and desired outcome of a particular manner of conduct — to describe the activity and subjective alignment of each form. who intervenes to ‗get things moving‘. p.440).John King / Literature in the sociologies of intellectuals and interventions / 10 a typology of ‗epistemic forms‘ and styles of intervention which constitute repertoires employed by individuals in the course of their intellectual work: to Bauman‘s authoritative legislators who arbitrate between opinions. . catalyst and broker of ideas‖ (Osborne 2004. why. Osborne adds the technical expert whose specialist expertise is autonomous from yet ancillary to the work of government. and the more postmodern interpreters who translate statements between knowledge-systems. Each epistemic form entails that intellectuals frame their subjectivity in a certain manner relative to their problematisation of the world and the role of ideas within the world. fixer. and — after Deleuze — the mediator. ―the intellectual worker as enabler. the what. drawing upon four dimensions of difference — in short. Osborne compares this to Foucault‘s concept of ethical technologies which format ―the manner in which one ought to form oneself as an ethical subject‖ (Foucault 1990).

fixing. the expert needs a field. autonomous from contamination By being a virtuoso of detail Gradual accrual of information which eventually modifies government Juxtaposing different ideas and different persons together Culture where ideas matter amidst the clash of cultures For Osborne the demise of grand ideologies opened up a space in which vehicular ideas and mediation can thrive. catalysing and brokering ideas Produce or aid the production of usable ideas To innovate Statements from particular factual domains To provide true useful knowledge. the interpreter needs a study full . but the requirements of each epistemic form differ: ―the legislator can legislate on his own.John King / Literature in the sociologies of intellectuals and interventions / 11 Activity Making authoritative Legislator statements which arbitrate in controversies Substance (what) Rationale (why) To bring about intellectual order Stylization (how) Strategy (outcome) Politicocultural programmes Cultivation of a rational discipline Wider social and political order Cultivation of Translating Interpreter statements from one tradition to another Texts To translate between cultural frames conversational Understanding disciplines (judgement and discernment) Servicing knowledge which is Expert ancillary to and autonomous from government Getting things moving by Mediator enabling.

but the degree to which academics are publicly active earlier in their careers may be expected to be strongly related to the norms and networks established within each discipline. academics have adopted a reputational form of work organisation that differs from the organisation of industry or of the professions.John King / Literature in the sociologies of intellectuals and interventions / 12 of texts. Intermediary structures such as research centres and institutes may increase the flow of knowledge and stabilise the interface between academic disciplines and wider society: ―by responding to social demands for relevant knowledge . priorities and procedures. or locally and informally by senior academics who act as mentors and role models. collective and interactive‖ activity (Osborne 2004. evidenced by their publication record and bestowed by their department. Reaching the top of a discipline usually confers membership of elite institutions which legitimate access to the higher echelons of government. Academic work consequently generates high levels of task uncertainty and cannot be monitored procedurally. set up a research unit or journal. p. Support may be provided by departments in the form of access to sources of funding and support to run events. but the mediator needs others and produces in relation to others‖ and for this reason mediation is necessarily a ―public. Academics as intellectuals When scientific knowledge production became increasingly diversified and specialised in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. scientists are therefore afforded considerable freedom as to how they complete their work (Whitley 2000). . [research centres] have served to . the discipline–department nexus is a powerfully entrenched custodian of training. . brokering access to networks of policy-makers and imprinting their norms and behaviours on their research group (Göktepe-Hultén 2008). The stance academics adopt towards fulfilling the demands of their department and discipline may affect their ability to secure influence and progress in their careers. Knowledge producers working within the academy structure are required to produce results that are novel and notable whilst maintaining compatibility with existing data. As the labour market status of scientists is defined by their reputation within a discipline (Whitley 2000). Quality and integrability of output is instead ensured by a normative pressure which results from the inculcation of a strong orientation to the opinion of other scientists. academic disciplines and their local manifestations as university departments became the dominant organisational forces. employment and reputation.443).

John King / Literature in the sociologies of intellectuals and interventions / 13 buffer the academic core of the university from the distortions that those demands would undoubtedly cause if they had to be met within a departmental context‖ (Geiger 1990. and another warns against politicisation and consequent delegitimisation. and such debates are characteristically polarised. [Insert analysis of each social science field here] Institutions and institutional work [I think that a ‘sociology of interventions’ would benefit from being integrated with the institutional literature. Lam (2011). Debates within social science disciplines Every social science discipline has debated its relationship with the world outside the academy. found four orientations towards commercial science: ‗pure traditional‘. but this work remains to be done] Institutional entrepreneurs Institutions enable and constrain action and rationality by preselecting the opportunities and choices which actors are able to perceive (Barley & Tolbert 1997): as organisational practices are ‗the way things are done‘ within organisations. ‗funding/networking‘ (ribbon) and ‗income‘ (gold). to solve intellectual puzzles or to make wider contributions to society (Åkerlind 2008). institutions are . ‗knowledge/curiosity‘ (puzzle).17). to become well known. p. one camp is concerned to ensure the discipline stays relevant to the concerns of society. Academic motivation University researchers express four different types of intentions of academic practice: to fulfil the requirements of an academic role. ‗pragmatic traditional‘. exploring the relationship between scientists‘ stances towards the separation of science and commerce and their motivation to conduct research. ‗hybrid‘ and ‗entrepreneurial‘ and three motivations.

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