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On Mediators: intellectuals and the ideas trade in the knowledge society

By Thomas Osborne


1 On Mediators: intellectuals and the ideas trade in the knowledge society This paper aims to provide some broad outlines of a model of intellectual practice that is arguably gaining increasing salience today; the model of the intellectual as mediator. The paper begins by drawing briefly upon some empirical data from a recent study in order to suggest that although institutions such as Universities and think tanks do seem to be embracing practices of intellectual production that are at some remove from 'traditional ' models of knowledge, the shift is not absolute- not least because the idea of the 'traditional ' intellectual as a basic norm is itself no doubt somewhat problematic. In seeking to address precisely this question as to how to think about norms of intellectual practice, the main body of the paper is more theoretical in its orientation. It seeks to adapt and extend some features of the work of Michel Foucault and Zygmunt Bauman in attempting to theorise a fourfold typology of intellectual style on the basis of the concepts of legislation, expertise, interpretation and finally mediation itself. Finally, the paper considers the status of the intellectual as mediator in today's 'knowledge society', considering whether the so-called 'end of ideology ' has lead to the demise of the intellectual who generates 'big ideas'

Year: 2011
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