Migrations of Thoughts
  Home > Public Intellectuals > Migration of Thoughts

  Vilhelm Bohutzkyy (CEU, Warsaw)
Gunar Myrdal´s Institutionalism and its Application in the Analysis of Post-Socialist Socio-Economic Transformation.

The paper explores the essential features of Gunnar Myrdal's version of institutionalism and how it may be applied in the analysis of the dynamics of socio-economic processes in post-socialist states. The first part of the paper places Myrdal's institutionalism in the broader context of developments in institutional economics and sociology. The second part aims at applying Myrdal's version of institutionalism  to the study of socio-economic transformation in post-socialist states.

Hedvig Ekerwald (Sociology, Uppsala)
The Private Life of a Public Intellectual. Alva Myrdal in the Service of United Nations 1949-1955.

Responding to a call for a more gender-sensitive understanding of public intellectuals, this paper analyses the conditions for being a woman public intellectual in New York in 1949 - 1950. Its subject is Alva Myrdal, the principal director of  the Social Affairs Department of United Nations. She was at her appointment a wellknown Swedish public intellectual and she came to be a public intellectual also in the US.  What are the conditions for her female leadership in UN? The analysis is based on an archive study on her letters to her husband Gunnar Myrdal.
>> More work on alva Myrdal.

Stefan Klingelhoefer (Sociology, Marburg)
The Concept of Public Intellectuals and the Weber Network

Differences and similarities in the role performance of public intellectuals can be reconstructed by focusing on the way they distinguish and oscillate between different kinds of contexts and different kinds of publics. In the case of social scientists, the content of their writings should be of relevance. But, as Dirk Kaesler has noted, none of the many publications about Max Weber has systematically distinguished and related the specific political contents and the specific scientific contents of his writings. Thus, content analysis seems to be needed and promising.
Content analysis concentrates on the term "intellectual", but gets expanded to include other terms - like "Literaten" or "Geistige" - that seem to function as structural equivalents (and thus: possible substitutes). Differences and commonalities are worked out and related to differences and commonalities in context(s), and especially to the distinction between science and politics. Quantitative and qualitative data are provided.

Stefan Müller-Doohm (Sociology, Oldenburg)
Towards a Sociology of Intellectual Styles of Thought.  Differences and Similarities in the Thought of Theodor W. Adorno and Jürgen Habermas

If we inquire into the function of an intellectual style of thought for the public sphere, we uncover a somewhat surprising feature that is common to Adorno and Habermas.  It is true that for Adorno what is crucial is the process of negation that has dissent as its goal, while Habermas's form of critique is inspired by the idea of communication which - in the best case - can culminate in agreement.  But in both men, the appellative function of intellectual critique, whether it addresses morally sensitive subjects, as in Adorno's case, or a politically functioning public sphere, as with Habermas, points to the agonal positionality of the intellectual style of thought. Agonality [, the battle for meaning,] is the defining feature of the intellectual style of thought which finds expression wherever commonly accepted views, convictions, institutional preconceptions and tendencies become the objects of contestation.  As an agonal form, intellectual critique is an 'incompetent but legitimate form of criticism' (Lepsius, 1964).  It follows that agonality is an interpersonal characteristic of the intellectual style of thought.  It may make its appearance in finely graded and highly divergent versions: in Adorno's case as agonality with the goal of dissent, in that of Habermas as agonality with the goal of deliberation.

William Outhwaite (Sociology, Sussex)
Civil Society Debates and European Public Intellectuals

What is, and how does one become, a European intellectual? This paper attempts to relate the idea of the intellectual in contemporary Europe to discussions of the eventual (in either sense of the term) existence of a European civil society or public sphere.  I shall take a limited informal sample of sociologists and other intellectuals and explore the dimensions of their pan-European resonance and the extent to which this is facilitated or hindered by media, academic and cultural structures.

Joanna Prus, Aleksandra Walentynowicz (CSS Warsaw)
Recontextualisations of a Public Intellectual: The Case of Gunnar Myrdal.

This work-in-progress is an attempt to look at how space and time affect the reception of a public intellectual and his work. Following extensive research into the matter, the case at hand will be the life an work of Gunnar Myrdal, and the recontextualisation of it in Poland. While seen as a public figure, Gunnar Myrdal was not necessarily perceived as an `intellectual´ and could hardly be seen as a name associated with social science as practiced locally. Any attempt at understanding this requires a brief introduction to the background in historical time-lines and an explanation of the peculiarity of the Polish public sphere, with the continued interdependence between politics and science. Contrasted with the reception and significance of Myrdal elsewhere, both in the past and present, the Polish case should highlight the differences in a shared yet distinct history.
Context-dependence of failure or success of a public figure also raises important questions about their status as a `public intellectual´ rather than a `technical operator´ or a `social engineer´. It seems that the very typology may be more sensitive to spatial, temporal and political manoeuvres than would be welcome to overcome fragmentation.

Joanna Prus

Aleksandra Walentynowicz

Anson Rabinbach (European Cultural Studies, Princeton)
Moments of Totalitarianism

Since the fall of communism, both the word and to a somewhat lesser extent, the concept of totalitarianism has made a significant, and some would argue, permanent, comeback.  During the 1990s, historians, as Ian Kershaw noted, have been compelled "to examine with fresh eyes the comparison between Stalinism and Nazism." More recently, in the atmosphere of heated controversy during the debate prior to the war in Iraq, a number of distinguished commentators once again embraced the word "totalitarian," extending its scope beyond the historical dictatorships of the 1930s and 1940s to include regimes and movements in the Middle East. Why does the comparison between Stalinist communism and Nazism still continue to produce offence or provoke fervour?   Can "totalitarianism" serve both as exoneration and as a way of amplifying guilt, as apologia and indictment, depending on how closely the speaker´s position might be identified with the victims or perpetrators?  Totalitarianism has always been a protean term, capable of combining and recombining meanings in different contexts and in new and ever-changing political constellations. I believe a powerful reason for the persistence of "totalitarianism" can be found in the historicity of the term itself, the importance of "moments" of totalitarianism, rather than in its conceptual validity, its intellectual "origins" or its "heuristic" value.    The "moment" of totalitarian performs a well-established rhetorical political function, defining a horizon of cognitive and intellectual orientations that sharpen oppositions, at the expense of obscuring moral and political ambiguities.  As Walter Laqueur shrewdly observed more than two decades ago, the debate over totalitarianism has never been a purely academic enterprise. It has also been about an intensely political concept, defining the nature of enmity for the Western democracies for more than a half century.

Per Wisselgren (Sociology, Uppsala)
Women as Public Intellectuals: Kerstin Hesselgren and Alva Myrdal

Why do most public intellectuals tend to be men? By taking this question raised in the recent debate on public intellectuals under consideration, the aim of this paper is to argue for the need for a more gender-sensitive understanding of public intellectuals. The first part of the paper problematizes the concept "public intellectuals" in itself, by pointing at its inherent ambiguity, historical situatedness and gendered bias. In the second part, this discussion is empirically substantiated by analyzing and contextually comparing two of Sweden's most prominent intellectual women in the first half of the 20th century, Kerstin Hesselgren and Alva Myrdal. Especially focused upon in that context are their relations to the historically changing spheres of social research, social reform and the public. The main argument developed in the final discussion is that a substantial part of the answer to the question about the lack of women among public intellectuals is to be found in these very spheres with their traditionally gendered institutional barriers.


  » Home | » About | » Imprint | Site done by SEO Agentur