The esoteric appeal of Tony Giddens

From How to become an internationally famous British social theorist by Stewart Clegg, 585-586:

“Giddens’s later concerns with structure and agency allow him to tap into many prestigious intellectual products as resources, such as linguistics, analytical philosophy and the Heideggerian tradition. These connections allow for far great consumption in more differentiated markets. The vague term ‘social theory’ gives freer scope, allowing Giddens to range freely and widely. The theoretical strategy has been to announce, from New Rules on, the deficiency of the orthodox consensus in some critical respect such as consideration of ‘war’, ‘space’, ‘time’, and then to borrow from cognate disciplines, such as international relations, history and geography, to remedy the defect. This gives Giddens a master key, wrapped up in the grammar of structuration, for addressing some important things that other theories omit. One can claim both transcendence of everything that has gone before and modesty in dialogue with friends and admirers who bring to attention other things not yet integrated into the system. Learn the Giddens system and you unlock the doors of greater perception by becoming acquainted with disciplines, ideas and figures whom one would not normally meet. If you are not familiar with a field, no worries – once you’ve read Giddens on ‘space-time’ distanciation you will appear as knowledgeable as the next human geographer – all the time you are doing social theory. The programme is ifnitely stretchable (although in practice it rarely addresses contemporary economics). Moreover, when specialists, offer corrections, that simply offers the opportunity for further debate, perhaps subsequent adjustment. It all keeps the product in the discerning public eye.

http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1467-954X.1992.tb00403.x/abstract

This review essay is fascinating for many reasons. But perhaps the most important is that it opens up the connections between what Nicos Mouzelis convincingly analyses asintellectual de-differentiation with the political economy of scholarly publishing. Crudely, blurring intellectual boundaries expands the market for social theorists.


Categories: Accelerated Academy

Tags: , , ,

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *