Dynamics of Transformative Ideas in Contemporary Public Discourse, 2002-2003

This project sought to address the changing role of ideas and intellectuals in the public discourses of contemporary 'knowledge societies'. To this end, the ethos and development of two ideas institutions were investigated - the think tank Demos and the LSE. The project sought to reconceptualise the general dynamics of societal ideas and the role of contemporary intellectuals by suggesting that ideas are increasingly 'vehicular' in character, that is, flexible, mobile, pragmatic, inclusive, and geared towards producing an image of their intellectual 'mediators' as agenda-setting agents in an increasingly media-orientated public sphere. Together with the project's analysis of two prominent 'vehicular ideas' - 'Third Way' and 'knowledge society' - the case studies suggest that this perspective is at least fruitful and challenging in understanding contemporary forms of 'ideas work'. Another research task was to assess whether think tanks and universities are converging in style and practice, and some evidence for this was found. However, the influence runs in both directions, with think tanks like Demos incorporating several typically academic norms. The study produced 33 interview transcripts, 18 research diaries, 14 working papers, 13 possible publications, and a journal special issue. Two successful public meetings were held with the hosts at the LSE and Demos.

Creator(s) McLennan, G., University of Bristol. Department of Sociology
Funder Economic and Social Research Council
Publisher UK Data Service
DOI 10.5255/UKDA-SN-5312-1
Total size 0 bytes

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