, Volume 4, Issue 1, pp 1-5
Date: 09 Nov 2012

Introduction: the Humanities and Citizenship

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The discourse of the knowledge (-based) economy constitutes a particular challenge for the humanities: where the role of the university is thought of in purely economic terms, the humanities must strive for legitimacy exclusively on the grounds of their ability to contribute to economic and technological development. This discourse fundamentally disempowers the humanities by neglecting their specificity and socializing function. The articles contained in this special issue seek to expand the paradigm within which the role of the humanities, both in the academy and in society more broadly, is conceptualized. Central to this is examining the changing functions which the humanities have fulfilled in different historical and cultural contexts. Historically, the rise of the humanities to prominence within the Western academy was closely linked to the emergence of the nation state and the ideal of the university as a guardian of national culture in the nineteenth century. However, in an incr