Advertisement

Public Intellectuals and Think Tanks: A Free Market in Ideas?

  • Barbara A. MisztalEmail author
Article

Abstract

The paper critically evaluates the thesis of the interchangeability between the think-tank public intellectual and the academic public intellectual. It suggests that this thesis, while endorsing the rise of the think-tank public intellectual, pronounces the salience of the intellectual-social critic and undermines the authority of academic public intellectuals. It is argued that the think-tank expert doubling as the public intellectuals could limit the political relevance of the academic public intellectual and that the think-tank expert’s monopolization of the public forum could present a threat to the quality of public debates. While recognizing that there are many contradictions inherent in the role of intellectual and that there are now numerous factors that hinder the abilities of academics to act as public intellectuals, the paper emphasizes public academic intellectuals’ contribution to the dynamics of public opinion and the quality of democratic standards. In today’s context, with the omnipresent of media, the new conditions of knowledge production, the neo-liberal ethos and the social prominence of think-tank experts, the sources of the academic public intellectual authority are in a continuous need for reinvestment.

Keywords

Public intellectuals Academics Think tanks Experts Democracy 

References

  1. Abelson, D. E. (2002). Do think tanks matter? Montreal: McGill-Queen University Press.Google Scholar
  2. Anthony, A.D. (2010). Willets: the brain of Tory Britain. The Observer. hhtp://www.guardain.co.uk/theobserver/2010/jan31/observer-profile-david-willett/
  3. Bauman, Z. (1992). Love in adversity: on the state and the intellectuals, and the state of the intellectuals. Telos, 31, 81–105.Google Scholar
  4. Booth, R. (2010). Spirited defence: how ‘ideas wreckers’ turned bestseller into political punchbag. The Guardian, August 3.Google Scholar
  5. Bourdieu, P. (1989). The corporatism of the universal: the role of Intellectuals in the modern world. Telos, 81, 99–110.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Bourdieu, P. (1992). For a socio-analysis of Intellectuals’, an interview with L.J. D. Wacquant. Berkeley Journal of Sociology, 1, 1–29.Google Scholar
  7. Bourdieu, P. (1993). Sociology in question (trans. Richard Nice). London: Sage.Google Scholar
  8. Bourdieu, P. (2004). Science of science and reflexivity (trans. Richard Nice). Cambridge: Polity.Google Scholar
  9. Buruma, I. (2012). Tony Judt: the right questions. New York Review of Book, 59, 28–31.Google Scholar
  10. Chakrabortty, A. (2012). Angry academics can’t answer my criticism, The Guardian. http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/may/07/academics-cant-answer-criticism-analysis
  11. Collini, S. (2006). Absent minds. Intellectuals in Britain. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  12. Collini, S. (2010). New left review. The Guardian, 10–11.Google Scholar
  13. Coser, L. (1965). Men of ideas. New York: The Free Press.Google Scholar
  14. Dahrendorf, R. (1996). The influence of liberal ideas in post-war Britain, interviewed by A. Seldon. In M. D. Kandlah & A. Seldon (Eds.), Ideas and think tanks in contemporary Britain (Vol. 1, pp. 137–143). London: Frank Cass.Google Scholar
  15. Danowski, J. A., & Park, D. W. (2009). Networks of the dead or alive in cyberspace. New Media and Society, 11(3), 337–356.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Denham, A. (1998). British think tanks and the climate of opinion. London: Taylor and Francis.Google Scholar
  17. Denham, A., & Garnet, M. (1999). Influence without responsibility. Think-tank in Britain. Parliamentary Affairs, 52(1), 46–57.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Eyerman, R. (1994). Between culture and politics. Intellectuals in modern society. Cambridge: Polity.Google Scholar
  19. Eyerman, R. (2011). Intellectuals and cultural trauma. European Journal of Social Theory, 14(4), 453–467.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Galbraith, J. K. (1972). The new industrial state. Harmondsworth: Penguin.Google Scholar
  21. Gattone, C. F. (2006). The social scientist as public intellectual. New York: Rowman and Littlefield.Google Scholar
  22. Giddens, A. (2009). The politics of climate change. Cambridge: Polity.Google Scholar
  23. Giroux, H. A. (2004). Edward Said and the politics of worldliness. Cultural Studies-Critical Methodologies, 4(3), 339–349.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Goldfarb, J. C. (1998). Civility and subversion the intellectual in democratic society. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Hobsbawm, R. (2012). After the Cold War. London Review of Book, 34, 12.Google Scholar
  26. Judt, T. (1992). The past imperfect: French intellectuals 1944–56. Berkeley: University of California Press.Google Scholar
  27. Judt, T. (2012). Thinking the twentieth century. London: William Heinemann.Google Scholar
  28. Kalleberg, R. (2012). Sociologist as public intellectuals and experts. Journal of Applied Social Science, 6(1), 43–52.Google Scholar
  29. Kaspersen, L. B. (2000). Anthony Giddens. Oxford: Blackwell.Google Scholar
  30. Kenny, M. (2004). Reckless minds or democracy’s helpers? Intellectuals and politics in the twentieth century. Contemporary Political Theory, 3, 89–103.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Matthews, D. (2012). Sector urges give and stop. Time Higher Education. http://www.timeshighereducation.co.uk/story.asp?sectioncode=26&storycode=419673&c=1
  32. Medvetz, T. (2010). Public policy is like having a vaudeville act. Qualitative Sociology, 33, 549–562.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Misztal, B. A. (2007). Intellectuals and the public good: creativity and courage. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Monbiot, G. (2010). Secretive thinktanks are crushing our democracy. The Guardian. hhtp://www.guardain.co.uk/cimmentsfree/thinktanks-crushing-democrarcy-pr-agencies
  35. Pautz, H. (2007). Scottish think-tanks and policy networks. Scottish Affairs, 58, 57–77.Google Scholar
  36. Pautz, H. (2010). Think-tanks in The United Kingdom and Germany. The British Journal of Politics and International Relations, 12(2), 274–294.Google Scholar
  37. Porter, H. (2007). Where is our Orwell, where is our Dickens? The Observer, 29.Google Scholar
  38. Posner, R. A. (2001). Public intellectuals. A study of decline. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  39. Rich, A. (2004). Think tanks, public policy and expertise. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Runciman, D. (2011). Can democracy cope. The Public Quarterly, 82(4), 536–545.Google Scholar
  41. Said, E. (1994). The representation of the intellectual. The 1993 Reith lectures. London: Vintage.Google Scholar
  42. Saunders, P. (2011). Academic sociology and social policy think tank in Britain and Australia. Sociological Research Online, 16(3), 10.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Schlesinger, P. (2009). Creativity and the experts. International Journal of Press/Politics, 14(1), 3–20.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Smith, J. A. (1991). The ideas brokers. New York: Free Press.Google Scholar
  45. Stone, D., & Garnett, M. (1998). Introduction: think tanks, policy advice and governance. In D. Stone, A. Denham, & M. Garnett (Eds.), Think tanks across nations (pp. 1–20). Manchester: Manchester University Press.Google Scholar
  46. Tickle, L. (2012).So you want to be the new Brian Cox? The Guardian. http://www.guardian.co.uk/education/2012/may/14/celebrity-academic-radion-tv-fundi
  47. Turner, J. (2012). Superficially Pally. London Review of Books, 34, 29–31.Google Scholar
  48. Waters, S. (2011). French intellectuals and globalization. French Cultural Studies, 22(4), 303–320.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Weaver, R. K. (1989). The changing world of think tanks. PS: Political Science and Politics, 22(3), 563–578.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Weidenbaum, M. (2010). Measuring the influence of think tanks. Social Science and Public Policy, 47, 134–137.Google Scholar
  51. Wolfe, A. (2003). An intellectual in public. Ann Arbor: Michigan University Press.Google Scholar
  52. Worth, R.F. (2011). Intellectuals sit out Arab Spring. New York Times, 1 and 4.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of SociologyUniversity of LeicesterLeicesterUK

Personalised recommendations