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Intellectuals and Cultural Trauma

  • Ron EyermanEmail author
Chapter
Part of the Cultural Sociology book series (CULTSOC)

Abstract

In this chapter, I contrast the intellectuals with both the intelligentsia and the professionals. I argue that the intellectual is best thought of as the performer of a social role that involves the articulation of ideas communicated to a broad audience. This claim implies two distinct ways of analyzing the intellectual. The first is to look at the way various social actors take on the task of articulating ideas in public discourses. The second is to study how particular persons aspire to be intellectuals, a role whose meaning they inherit as part of a tradition that must be interpreted and reinvented. Through an examination of six assassinations, I show how intellectuals can act as carrier groups during a cultural trauma, the public discourse in which the foundations of collective identity are brought up for reflection. I conclude with reflections on the changing nature and position of the intellectual in contemporary society in light of the prevalence of the media and the new digital age.

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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Yale UniversityNew HavenUSA

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