Case Studies
  Home > Public Intellectuals > Case Studies

  Laurent Jeanpierre (Sociology, Université Paris XII) and Sebastian Mosbah Natanson (Sociology,CNRS-Université Paris IX)
French Intellectuals in OpEd Pages

Expressing one's views in the Press may well be one of the national exception of the French tradition of Public Intellectuals. We will provide a sociological description of ten years of OpEd Pages of French main national daily newspaper, Le Monde. We will also offer a synthesis of current works conducted in France around the problem of the intellectuals and the press. Social sciences have become more and more legitimate sites from which to become a public intellectual in France. But the career of the public intellectual and the career of the scientist are clearly differentiated. The majority of the columns written by French intellectuals in the daily press are general viewpoints. They often deal with foreign policy and international problems with no relation whatsoever with the specific professional skills of the writer. We thus offer a typology of public intellectuals in the press: the universal specialist ; the spokeperson ; the specialist who can sometimes be an expert. Our results are connected with a more qualitative study on one year of reported speech coming from sociologists in three national daily newspapers. With other materials coming from interviews with French sociologists and journalists we will show what are the mechanisms of reference to the social sciences in the French press.

Werner Reichmann (Sociology, Innsbruck) and Markus Schweiger (Sociology, Graz)
How Hayek beats Lazarsfeld, Differences in the Public Reception of two Applied Scientific Subfields

In both sociology and economics an applied working field developed nearly at the same time. In the 1920s most of the business cycle research institutes were founded and enriched economics with very empirical and quantitative works. At ca. the same time applied and empirical social research rose up. It is very interesting to compare the development of those two subfields. There are many similarities and differences, continuities and discontinuities which finally lead to a complete different reception and position in the present. Our thesis is that the applied economists are on many dimensions more successful than the empirical social researchers are. F. A. Hayek, who was the first scientific leader of the Viennese business cycle research institute, beats Paul F. Lazarsfeld who is considered as the founder of empirical applied social research. The intellectual heritage of the less political engaged researcher Hayek has now much more political influence than the very ideological driven sociologist Lazarsfeld. An important question educed from this thesis is: which factors makes a field of scientific work successful and public respected?

John Torpey (Sociology, CUNY)
Tocqueville as a Public Intellectual

Tocqueville´s oeuvre admits of a considerable variety of interpretations, is politically polyvocal, and has been enormously influential in the United States and around the world.  Despite this massive resonance, Tocqueville´s writings are simply not regarded today as crucial to the training of professional sociologists - as opposed to well-read undergraduates or scholars of other kindred disciplines.  How can this be?  I argue that Tocqueville´s stature as a public intellectual, his apparent concern with countries rather than concepts, and his presumed failure to live up to twentieth-century standards of scientific rigor has left him out of the sociological canon.  At the same time, his views on intellectuals have been in line with relatively conservative thinking about the politics of that group that is unappealing to sociologists with world-transforming ambitions.  Yet his understanding of the politics of intellectuals are rather more sociological in character than those of Marx.  Ultimately, Tocqueville should be seen as a kind of modern-day Stoic in the mold of Max Weber - someone who regarded certain changes as unstoppably afoot in modern society, whether he liked them or not, and who saw it as his task to make sense of those changes and to do what he could to moderate their more extreme effects.

Joseba Zulaika (Basque Studies, Nevada-Reno)
Intellectuals among Terrorists: Experts vs. Witnesses

What do you do, as an intellectual, when your primary community (your family, friends, village, country, occupation) produces "terrorists"? What is your intellectual task-to define them, to diagnose them, to condemn them, to persuade them, to understand them, to exorcise them? Should you look at it as tragedy, irony, farce, romance, or sheer crime? Whether in the Basque Country, Ireland, or the United States, intellectual approaches to "terrorism" are of necessity enmeshed in the writer's self-definitions and ideological investments. But, even more, we might question whether there is a sense in which "expertise" on the terrorist Other presupposes acceptance of the logic of taboo and willful ignorance of the actual life conditions of the subjects of research. Various readings and approaches to the phenomenon of terrorism are likely to produce antagonistic intellectuals.      


  » Home | » About | » Imprint | Site done by Internetagentur