The Social Scientist as Public Intellectual: Critical Reflections on the Place of Social Science in Public Affairs

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What is the role of the social scientist in public affairs? How have changes in the structure of the university system and the culture of academia reshaped the opportunities and constraints facing contemporary scholars? The Social Scientist as Public Intellectual addresses these and other questions by reviewing the ideas of seminal thinkers in Europe and the United States, and relating their conclusions to today's world. In this book, Charles Gattone examines the analyses of Max Weber, Thorstein Veblen, Karl Mannheim, Joseph Schumpeter, C. Wright Mills, John Kenneth Galbraith, and Pierre Bourdieu, tracing their perspectives through two World wars, the Cold War, and into the present. Gattone situates the ideas of these authors in historical context, showing the ways the realities of their time - fascism , totalitarianism, the rise of bureaucratic institutions, and the expansion of industrial democracy - informed their assessments regarding the place of the intellectual in the political realm. He brings their work into the current context, addressing the difficulties involved in bridging the gap between the ideas of scholarly inquiry and the practical realities of politics, and examining the ways newer factors such as the mass media relate to the character and trajectories of popular sentiment. Gattone argues that although political and economic institutions continue to influence the course of academic knowledge, opportunities remain for social scientists to act independently and develop insight that can ultimately be of value to a wide spectrum of the population in the modern order. Rather than follow the habit of striving to satisfy the narrow demands of institutional supporters, Gattone suggests that social scientists have the potential to approach their work from the standpoint of a broader orientation, and address social issues as public intellectuals.

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Editorial Reviews

Joe R. Feagin
Innovatively and insightfully, Gattone demonstrates that the social scientist's role as a public intellectual has been problematized for centuries. Mining ideas of early savants like Weber and Veblen, he presses forward to recent sociologists like Mills and Bourdieu, all expert examiners of the often-tortured relationships of social scientists to policymakers in eras of increasing bureaucratization. Generally handicapped by enshrining bureaucracies, social scientists at their best do step outside and debunk old societal myths, provide new social knowledge, and shed bright light on regressive cultural practices. An illuminating book with many uses.
December 2006 Journal of Economic Literature
Explores what it means to be a public intellectual in the social sciences and how this relates to social research through a study of several famous academics. Discusses knowledge and politics in early modern social thought.
February 2008 Sage: British Sociological Association
Gattone's arguments seem reasonable and optimistic, without ever overstating the possibilities for sociology in the public realm. Moreover, he is careful to highlight disagreements and divisions concerning the place of personal values in research and how this fundamentally determines differing constructions of the 'public sociologist'. In this sense, this is a text that displays a rich understanding of the ethical dimensions that are involved in public engagement and are at the core of all sociological research.
Professor Tim Kubal
The Social Scientist as Public Intellectual presents an original analysis of a unique group of thinkers on a largely ignored topic. Because of its novel combination of parts—connecting sociological theory and sociology of science to address the widely discussed but under theorized topic of the public intellectual—Charles Gattone's book is a significant contribution to the field of sociology.
Many graduate students and established scholars seek to change the world through their sociology, and this book provides guidance on how that can be done: it's a meta-theoretical guidebook on becoming a public intellectual.
American Journal of Sociology
All the chapters are intriguing and well documented. This book stands out for the quality of the overview it offers of the reflections of prominent social scientists on the role of their profession in society. The clarity of Gattone's synthesis also makes this book stand out as an excellent text for readers who are new to the social sciences.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780742537927
  • Publisher: The Rowman & Littlefield Publishing Group Inc
  • Publication date: 4/28/2006
  • Pages: 186
  • Product dimensions: 9.00 (w) x 6.00 (h) x 0.56 (d)

Meet the Author

Charles Gattone is an Assistant Professor of Sociology at the University of Florida. He received his Ph.D. in Sociology from the New School for Social Research in New York, and has taught at Drew University and Oberlin College. His current work is in the area of sociological theory, media studies, and the sociology of knowledge, and his earlier publications include, Image and Persuasion: The Machiavellian World of Advertising and Public Relations, The Role of the Intellectual in Public Affairs, and Media and Politics in the Information Age.

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Table of Contents

1 Introduction 2 Knowledge and Politics in Early Modern Social Thought: Auguste Comte and Henri deRouvroy Saint-Simon 3 Max Weber: Social Science and Politics in the Transition to State Capitalism 4 Thorstein Veblen: The Social Scientist as Innovative Thinker 5 Karl Mannheim and Joseph Schumpeter: Social Science, Intellectuals, and Politics in an Age of Declining Liberalism 6 C. Wright Mills and John Kenneth Galbraith: Institutions, Social Science, and the Role of Intellectuals in the New Industrial State 7 Pierre Bourdieu: Intellectuals, Symbolic Power, and Social Change

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