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Chapter 21. Intellectuals, Culture, Policy: The Practical and the Critical

Tony Bennett

Subject Cultural Studies » Culture

Key-Topics intellectual, policy

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405141758.2005.00022.x


There are now ample signs that cultural policy is emerging as an increasingly important area of theoretical and practical engagement for intellectuals working in the fields of sociology and cultural studies. This has occasioned a good deal of debate concerning the roles of intellectuals and the relationships they should adopt in relation to the bureaucratic and political processes through which cultural policies are developed and put into effect. It is with these debates that I engage here with a view to distinguishing the light that might be thrown on them by different accounts of the social roles and distribution of different kinds of intellectual function. My concerns here will center on the relations between two traditions of social theory. The first derives from Jürgen Habermas's classic study of the public sphere ( Habermas 1989 ) and theorizes the role of intellectuals in terms of the distinction between critical and technical intellectual functions which characterizes Habermas's construction of the relationships between different forms of rationality. The second comprises the tradition which, following in the wake of Michel Foucault's essay on governmentality ( Foucault 1978 ), has concerned itself with the roles of particular forms of knowledge and expertise in organizing differentiated fields of government and social management. My starting-point will be with the Habermasian ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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