Plugging into the Body of the Leviathan: Proposal for a New Sociology of Public Interventions

Gil Eyal

Abstract


The main argument of this short essay is that the concept of intellectual, especially the somewhat redundant neologism of public intellectual, is too narrow to guide research on how interventions in public affairs are currently authored, crafted, and operated. Instead, I propose the concept of public interventions to inform a more comprehensive approach that broadens the analytical frame by multiplying relevant agencies, modes and targets of intervention. This approach is inspired by Foucault's (Truth and Power) distinction between the "universal" and "specific" intellectual; Bourdieu's (Corporatism) replacement of the latter by a "collective intellectual"; and the approach to the public sphere urged by the contributors to Making Things Public (Latour and Weibel).


Keywords


Specific Intellectual; Experts; Expertise; Opinion; Public Sphere; Public Intellectual

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.17192/meta.2013.1.1033

MA (Tel-Aviv University), PhD (UCLA), is Professor of Sociology at Columbia University. Gil’s work is on the sociology of expertise, intellectuals and knowledge, in particular as it relates to broader political processes and to the interstitial spaces between fields. His most recent books are with Brendan Hart, Emine Onculer, Neta Oren and Natahsa Rossi: The Autism Matrix – The Social Origins of the Autism Epidemic (2010); The Disenchantment of the Orient – Expertise in Arab Affairs and the Israeli State (2006).