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Title: On Intellectuals
Authors: O'Neill, D
Issue Date: 2017
Publisher: Brill and Haymarket
Citation: Considering Class: Theory, Culture and the Media in the 21st Century, 2017
Abstract: This essay explores the social and political role and significance of the intellectuals within capitalist society. It sets out to define the intellectual and the nature of what they produce (ideas) and their relationship to broader class relations. It shows how key Marxist thinkers provide the basis for a socio-economic understanding of the activities and products of the intellectual. At the heart of transforming the current role of the intellectual within the existing divisions of labour, lies the project to democratise the social role of the intellectuals. This requires expanding the social base of the intellectuals and connecting their activities to a self-reflexive project of social and political transformation. This is the basis and definition of truly critical thought. In this essay we discuss how Marx and Engels’ began the task of establishing a theoretical framework for a historical and materialist account of the intellectuals in The German Ideology. We show how the Italian Marxist Antonio Gramsci further developed our understanding of the intellectual and we clarify and add to his key distinctions between the traditional and organic intellectual. Having set out the theoretical framework and broad philosophical and political implications of the intellectual, we then look at role of the intellectual in the post-Second World War era, up to our contemporary moment. We discuss the relationship between the middle class and the hegemonic intellectual, the difficulties posed for the middle class intellectual to be genuinely counter-hegemonic and the need for the reconstitution of organic intellectuals from the working class. Finally we explore these issues in relation to the media and especially oppositional digital and social media practices.
ISSN: 10
Other Identifiers: 10
Appears in Collections:Dept of Arts and Humanities Embargoed Research Papers

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