Reflections on Crisis

Reflections on Crisis: The role of the public intellectual

Mary P. Corcoran
Kevin Lalor
Copyright Date: 2012
Published by: Royal Irish Academy
Pages: 118
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt14jxtkw
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  • Book Info
    Reflections on Crisis
    Book Description:

    This book brings together academic essays originally delivered at a Royal Irish Academy symposium held in 2008, the year the global financial crisis hit. It reflects a bewilderment at the heart of Irish society as the public looked to journalists and academics for explanations and solutions to what went wrong.

    eISBN: 978-1-908996-50-3
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-v)
  3. ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
    (pp. vi-vi)
  4. Note on the Academy Committee for Social Sciences
    (pp. vii-2)
  5. INTRODUCTION: CHALLENGING INTELLECTUALS
    (pp. 3-14)
    Mary P. Corcoran

    In his bookIll fares the land, Tony Judt muses on the erosion of values-based politics and the concomitant ascent of market fundamentalism in western societies. He asks whether politics can be re-fashioned in order to re-create a social contract fit for purpose in the twenty-first century. This question is particularly pertinent in the Irish context as we reflect ruefully on the fate of the country over the last five years. The orthodoxies associated with the Celtic Tiger have come unstuck and austerity has replaced our chimerical prosperity. The current crisis has created a space for review and reflection on...

  6. WITHIN AND BEYOND THESE WALLS: UNIVERSITY ACADEMICS AS PUBLIC INTELLECTUALS
    (pp. 15-28)
    Donncha O’Connell

    When I was invited to contribute to this volume my instant reaction was to disclaim any attachment to the idea of being a public intellectual. All of my initial notes on the subject construed the idea of a public intellectual in pejorative terms which, in itself, was a ‘finding’ of sorts. I thought of academics who happened to be public intellectuals in the following terms: escapees; trespassers; promiscuous talkers or ‘pundits’ (i.e. paid promiscuous talkers); exiles from the specific seeking refuge in the general; and credible ‘notice-boxes’ (this is a concept known only to those of us taught by nuns!)....

  7. THE ASSAULT ON INTELLECTUALISM IN IRISH HIGHER EDUCATION
    (pp. 29-40)
    Tom Garvin

    In independent Ireland, in times of tranquillity, intellectuals are dispensed with. The views of economists, novelists, playwrights, sociologists, historians, political scientists and thoughtful civil servants are dismissed or ignored. In good times, the warnings of academic economists are denigrated. Once, calamity had people fleeing to the arms of Mother Church or moving statues of the Virgin rather than seeking the advice of lay intellectuals. This kind of miracle-seeking is not quite extinct even now. It was not until the 1950s that political calamity provoked, and got popular acceptance for, the advice of established intellectuals. This was, of course, the group...

  8. PUBLIC INTELLECTUALS IN TIMES OF CRISIS: THE ROLE OF ACADEMIA
    (pp. 41-54)
    Frances Ruane

    In 2001 Richard Posner, US Appeals Court judge, wrote a major book entitledPublic intellectuals: a study of decline. In the book, he drew attention to the evolution of public intellectuals over the past century and the fact that today most of them hold academic positions. As a consequence, the role and focus of the intellectual in public debate is influenced by what is happening in the world of academe. Posner reflects on how the development of academic scholarship over the twentieth century has seen an increase in specialisation, as scholars in most disciplines focus their time more deeply within...

  9. REFLECTIONS ON THE PUBLIC INTELLECTUAL’S ROLE IN A GENDERED SOCIETY
    (pp. 55-76)
    Pat O’Connor

    The word ‘intellectuals’ is used by Miliband (1982) ‘to denote the people who are mainly concerned with the formation, articulation and dissemination of ideas’ (p. 87). Gramsci (1971) suggests that everyone can be an intellectual, but that not everyone in society ‘has the function of intellectuals’ (p. 9). Implicit in Gramsci’s ideas about intellectuals is a concern with ideology and the ways in which ideas and systems of ideas are used by the powerful to present social arrangements as ‘natural’, ‘inevitable’, and ‘what people want’. He also refers to the existence of traditional intellectuals (such as teachers and academics, judges...

  10. PUBLIC INTELLECTUALS AND THE ‘CRISIS’: ACCOUNTABILITY, DEMOCRACY AND MARKET FUNDAMENTALISM
    (pp. 77-102)
    Liam O’Dowd

    One of the ways the current economic crisis in Ireland and elsewhere has manifested itself is in a widespread crisis of public accountability—in other words, a crisis of democracy. A number of key questions have emerged including:

    What are the choices informing public policy?

    Who, or what, determines these choices?

    How, and to whom, are decision-makers and power-holders—governments, corporations, professional groupings and other institutions—to be held accountable for the consequences of the choices they make?

    Such questions are scarcely new and have long preoccupied public intellectuals and critical social observers across the globe. They...

  11. NOTES
    (pp. 103-105)
  12. BIBLIOGRAPHY
    (pp. 106-115)
  13. ABOUT THE CONTRIBUTORS
    (pp. 116-120)
  14. Back Matter
    (pp. 121-121)