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order to cope with life, human beings have

“world-openness,” that is human beings have to

create and maintain a cultural world to replace or

to supplement their instinctual world. It is this

incompleteness that provides the anthropological

explanation for the origins of social institutions.

Berger and Thomas Luckmann, in The Construction

of Social Reality (1967), developed this position to

argue that, since human beings are, as it were,

biologically underdeveloped, they have to construct

a social canopy or religion around themselves

in order to complete or supplement their


Institutions are the social bridges between

human beings and their natural environment

and it is in terms of these institutions that human

life becomes coherent and meaningful. Institutions,

in filling the gap created by instinctual

deprivation, provide humans with relief from the

tensions generated by their undirected instinctual

drives. Over time, these institutions come to be

taken for granted and become part of the implicit

background of social action. The social foreground

is occupied by reflective, practical, and conscious

practices. With modernization, however, there is a

process of de-institutionalization with the result

that the taken-for-granted background becomes

less reliable, more open to negotiation, culturally

fluid, and increasingly an object of critical debate

and reflection. Accordingly the social foreground

expands, and the everyday world becomes risky

and precarious. The objective, sacred institutions

of tradition recede, and modern life becomes subjective,

contingent, and problematic. According

to Gehlen, we live in a world of secondary or

quasi-institutions. There are profound psychological

changes that are associated with these social

developments. In premodern societies, human beings

had character that is a firm, coherent, and

definite psychological structure that corresponded

with reliable social roles and institutions.

In modern societies, people have personalities

that are fluid and flexible, like the precarious

institutions in which they live. The existential

pressures on human beings are significant and to

some extent modern people are confronted with

the uncertainties of what Berger, B. Berger, and

H. Kellner called The Homeless Mind (1973).

This theory of institutions and their decline

presupposes a theory of secularization in which

the traditional sanctions behind institutions decline

with the advent of modern, risk-ridden cultures.

However, the contemporary revival of

religion suggests that this melancholic picture of

uncertainty requires some correction. Berger’s

early sociology was also influenced by the work

of Helmut Schelsky who, in an influential article,

asked the question “Can Continuous Questioning

be Institutionalized?” in Norman Birnbaum and

Gertrud Lenzer (eds.), Sociology of Religion (1957

[trans. 1969]). His conclusion was that a process

of continuous reflectivity was not humanly possible,

if enduring and reliable social relationships

were to survive. While a number of sociologists,

such as Ulrich Beck and Anthony Giddens, have

argued that “de-traditionalization” and “reflexive

modernization” are the predominant trends of

late modernity, there are valid counterarguments,

both sociological and psychological, to suggest that

people in their everyday lives need stable social

structures. Where there is de-traditionalization,

there will also be countervailing movements of reinstitutionalization.

Whereas traditional sociology was the study of

institutions, the speed of social change in contemporary

society and the apparent flexibility of

social arrangements have meant that sociologists

have sought to avoid treating institutions as if

they were things, and have looked more towards

social processes – that is towards processes of institutionalization,

de-institutionalization, and reinstitutionalization

– than towards stable clusters

of roles. Institutions should not be reified, but

institution(s) institution(s)


rather treated as maps by which to read social

processes. BRYAN S. TURNER

instrumental rationality

– see rationality.


Three notions are intertwined in the idea of the

intellectual: intellectuals, the intelligentsia, and

intellectual labor.

The term intellectual came into common usage

with the Dreyfus affair in France (1894–1906),

during which the novelist E´mile Zola wrote a politically

charged open letter in a popular periodical.

In the public controversy which followed this

crossing of the boundary between culture and

politics, Zola was accused of being a mere “intellectual,”

a publicity-seeking dilettante, a popularizer

who degraded cultural values in seeking a

wider audience. In response, the term intellectual

became a nom de guerre for those who wished to

do public battle with the establishment, be they

cultural or political.

The intelligentsia is historically older, having its

roots in sections of the Russian and Polish elite in

the middle of the nineteenth century who identified

themselves with European modernity. The intelligentsia

achieved even greater social cohesion

in taking on the missionary task of bringing enlightenment

to what it considered the darker

regions of eastern Europe and central Asia.

As a sociological concept, the idea that the

working population could be divided and defined

by a division between intellectual and manual

labor emerged later as part of an attempt to operationalize

the concept. The idea of intellectual

labor as the defining characteristic of the intellectual

has, however, been projected backward in

time by those seeking to identify a material and

objective basis for empirical investigation. It has

served as a means of distinguishing various strata

of the middle class, for example. The “intellect” is

here treated as a source of income and social

status and “intelligence” as a personal attribute,

a form of rent-bearing property: human capital.

From this perspective, one may speak of “intellectual

professions,” as well as attempting to divide

intellectual from manual labor.

Common to these three notions is the attempt

to define the intellectual as a distinctive social

category and to make some judgments about its

functions and its behavior. In the 1920s, Julien

Benda (1867–1956) railed against the “treason of

the intellectuals,” because in his eyes this social

group was not fulfilling its proper role as social

reformers and critics, while Antonio Gramsci distinguished

“organic” and “traditional intellectuals”

on the basis of their role in social change

as much as their allotted class position. Decades

later, the American sociologist Alvin Gouldner

spoke of the intellectuals as a “new class,” to

which Georgy Konrad and Ivan Szelenyi, in their

Intellectuals on the Road to Class Power (1979), developed

the idea that intellectuals, expecially in

central and eastern Europe, were moving towards

class power. The opposite point of view was proposed

by John Goldthorpe in “On the Service

Class” (1982) in Anthony Giddens and G. Mackenzie

(eds.), Social Class and the Division of Labour, where he

defined intellectuals as a service class with conservative

rather than radical political orientations.

Another point of view is offered by Ron Eyerman

in Between Culture and Politics (1994), who defines

intellectuals as an assumed social role,

rather than an assigned social category or personality

type. The intellectual from this point of view

mediates and reinvents ideals and traditions in

new historical contexts. Facilitating factors in

this process are often social movements, which

provide opportunities for those without formal

“intellectual” qualifications to assume the functions

traditionally associated with intellectuals,

mediating culture and politics. RON EYERMAN


The publication of Francis Galton’s Hereditary

Genius (1869) pre-dates by several decades the

period which is normally taken to be the moment

marking the beginning of modern sociology.

Writing in the aftermath of Charles Darwin’s

Origin of Species and The Ascent of Man, Galton maintained

the real objective existence both of racial

differences and of social class differences in

mental ability. E´mile Durkheim’s insistence, in

Suicide (1896), that this phenomenon was to be

explained primarily by collective rather than

individual factors can be seen as a deliberate reaction

against the prior tendency to suppose that

human behavior is biologically or genetically determined.

The question of the “heritability of intelligence”

was critical in resolving whether or

not a sociology of education might be necessary

or possible and whether it was justifiable to

expend public finance in order to expand educational

provision. The acceptance in general that

human behavior is at least partly modified by

social interaction, that human character is at least

partly the product of “nurture” rather than

wholly determined by “nature”, is a sine qua non

instrumental rationality intelligence


for sociological research, and the debate about

intelligence has provided a case study for this

larger issue at significant moments in western

social history since 1869.

In 1953, Brian Simon wrote a small book entitled

Intelligence Testing and the Comprehensive School. In

the Preface to the text, a teacher asked: “Have we

achieved ‘secondary education for all,’ the reform

that was the keystone of the Education Act, 1944?

If not, why not? What are the fundamental misconceptions

and practices that stand in our way?”

What was at stake was the widening of opportunity

within the British educational system that was

projected immediately at the end of World War II.

The teacher believed that Simon had exposed

the obstacle to progress towards egalitarianism:

“He shows how the practice of intelligence testing

is used to justify the curtailment of opportunity

from the junior school onwards; he shows also

how theories based on intelligence testing uphold

a form of school organization, and forms of teaching,

which make secondary education for all impossible.”

The book was reproduced in entirety

in Simon’s Intelligence, Psychology and Education. A

Marxist Critique (1971) and he asked in a new introduction

why a publisher should want to reprint

the earlier text, since the reorganization of secondary

education on comprehensive lines was

“now well under way.” He indicated, however,

that victory was far from secured in the United

States. He suggested that “attempts to reanimate

the ideology of ‘intelligence’ testing in the United

States, as a barrier to the declared policy of desegregating

schools, indicate that there are powerful

social and political forces in favor of reinstating

the doctrine that intelligence is innate and impervious

to educational influences, to the detriment

of social and educational advance.” He was especially

referring to the article by Arthur Jensen

which appeared in the Harvard Educational Review

in 1969 with the title: “How Much Can We Boost

IQ and Scholastic Achievement?” This article

relied on data on identical and fraternal twins

reared apart which had been accumulated by Cyril

Burt from the 1920s and presented in his Factors of

the Mind (1940). Simon’s text of 1971 criticized

Burt’s work but, in the second edition of 1978,

he was able to quote L. J. Kamin’s The Science and

Politics of I.Q. (1977) to suggest that Burt’s research

had “fudged” the evidence.

Nevertheless, the debate continued and still

continues. Robert B. Joynson’s The Burt Affair

(1989) questioned Kamin’s criticisms, and a new

statement of the heritability thesis appeared in

1994, occasioning much comment and political

dispute. In The Bell Curve (1994), Charles Murray

and Richard Herrnstein asserted, on the basis of

statistics derived from the National Longitudinal

Survey of Youth in the United States, that intelligence

is largely inherited and that genes play a

part in the fact that African Americans score

lower than whites on intelligence tests. The

debate about intelligence has always had important

implications for developments in social and

educational policy (see social policy). Michael

Young’s satire of 1958 entitled The Rise of the Meritocracy,

1870–2033 was sub-titled “An Essay on Education

and Inequality.” The book coined the word

meritocracy which then became part of the language

of subsequent thinking about education

and society, linking with the assumption of credentialism

that occupational and social advancement

are the consequence of individual merit.

Young proposed the formula that IQ + Effort =

Merit and expressed skepticism that social engineering

might be achieved without reference to

class assumptions or prejudices. The implications

of the debate now seem more serious as rapid

developments occur as a result of research in genetics,

cognitive neuroscience, and molecular biology.

After some discussion in the late 1920s of

Charles Spearman’s postulate that there must be

a general factor of intelligence, labeled “g,” that is

the underlying cause of an individual’s performance

in varied tests, Francis Fukuyama commented

in his Our Posthuman Future. Consequences

of the Biotechnology Revolution (2003) that scientific

advances will soon generate a more refined understanding

of this phenomenon, and that there is a

possibility that the consequences of such good

knowledge will be beneficial. He suggests that

brain imaging techniques can chart blood flow

and neuron firings and that it may then become

possible to correlate these with different kinds of

mental activities so as to determine with some

finality whether “g is one thing or many things.”

Bad science has been used for bad ends in the past

but, as Fukuyama optimistically concludes his discussion

of the sciences of the brain and the heritability

of intelligence, this should not rule out the

possibility that good science may serve us well in

the future. DEREK ROBBINS

intelligence task

– see intelligence.


This is a subject with philosophical origins and

identifiable roots, according to some authorities,

as far back as Parmenides in the fifth century BCE,

intelligence intentionality


and certainly of importance in classical and medieval

writings before the contemporary interest,

which is usually dated to the work of the phenomenologist

Franz Brentano (1838–1917). Mental

states are said to be intentional insofar as they

have a content. Beliefs, attitudes, desires, purposes,

and the like, that are about something –

for example, I believe that extraterrestrials are among

us, I am in favor of government by extraterrestrials, and

I plan to vote for extraterrestrials in the next election –

are thus distinguished from other kinds of mental

state – for example, affective states such as I am

depressed – which do not require a specified content

for them to be coherent or intelligible. This

particular technical use is to be distinguished

from a related use in ordinary language and legal

judgments, where the focus of interest is the

intended effect of an action. The former became

a subject of philosophical and sociological inquiry

through John L. Austin’s (1911–60) work on

“speech acts,” and the latter have been the subject

of work by many jurists including Austin himself.

Brentano’s focus on what he termed intentional

inexistence – which is to say mental content that

is not tied to any known existing state of affairs as

in the case of the extraterrestrials above – raises

interesting conceptual challenges. For him, the

argument from the observation that mental states

do not depend on existing cases or experiences

and the claim that mental states are qualitatively

different to physical states led to a conclusion in

favor of dualism, but left open the problem of how

a mental state thus defined can become a physical


Others, while not subscribing to an overtly dualist

position in seeking to avoid this problem have

argued that intentionality inheres in computational

states of the brain which are themselves

physical. However, this account is vulnerable to

the problem that there is no necessary correspondence

between physical state and belief state,

nor between the belief states of two physically

matched entities as Hilary Putnam (1926– ) argued

with his Twin Earth thought experiment.

One response to the problems raised by intentionality

has been the proposal that it is an

epiphenomenon and plays no role in the determination

of individual action. Another, which

derives from both certain behavioral and hermeneutical

positions, has been to argue that intentional

talk effectively attributes intentional

states to individuals, by themselves or by other

individuals, and is part of the public calculus on

which we base the prediction of our own and each

other’s behavior. Fundamental to what some refer

to as the intentional stance (Donald Davidson

[1917–2003] and Daniel Dennett [1942– ]) is the

mutual recognition that individual actors have

of each other’s interpretations of their actions as

intentional. In this view, the analyst’s focus on

intentionality is drawn away from unobservable

internal psychological states to public events and

the external environment. DAVID GOOD


In general, the term interaction is associated with

micro-sociological studies of social processes involving

face-to-face encounters, and of contexts

in which people act in relation to one another.

But the term also has a broader sociostructural

import, involving a macro-sociological orientation,

in that many sociologists view social systems

as built upon systems of interaction. Such systems

arise out of the production of both face-to-face

interaction and interaction with others who

are physically absent; they thus stretch away in

time and space in terms of their wider implications

for analysis of the social field.

The micro-sociological analysis of interaction

derives its central impetus from Max Weber’s

concept of Verstehen (understanding), by which

Weber sought to underscore the basic role of subjective

interpretation in human doing and human

action. To understand what a social agent is doing

in any particular social context, according to

Weber, demands some minimal consideration of

how that agent subjectively grasps the meaning

of their own behavior. Applying this insight to

the normative character of social action, Talcott

Parsons wrote of the “double contingency” that

shapes interaction. For Parsons, the reactions of

the other(s) always frame the acts of the social

actor, because the nature of contingent responses

is such that it serves as a potential sanction in the

broader context of power relations.

The micro-sociological study of interaction has

taken different forms. One of the most influential

has issued from ethnomethodology and

analysis of “turn-taking” in conversational interaction.

When we engage in conversational talk,

for example, much of what we do is based on our

recognition that only one person usually speaks at

a time (termed the seriality of participants) in

order to constitute interaction as meaningful.

Another tradition which focuses upon the conventions

whereby the communication of meaning

in interaction is achieved is that of critical theory,

specifically the work of Ju¨rgen Habermas. The

reproduction of social life unfolds, according to

Habermas, not only through technological modes

interaction interaction


of action but also through “symbolic interaction.”

In this sociological communicative framework,

interaction is contextualized in terms of the symbolic

structuring of communication, with reflection

upon human action arising in and through

reflexive linguistic interaction.

Other sociologists have been critical of the

micro-sociological neglect of the role of temporality

and social reproduction in grasping how interaction,

the social field, and history are closely

intertwined. Other sociologists suggest that the

micro- versus macro-sociological distinction fails

to grasp the radical extension of human interaction

in space and in time as a consequence of

the overall development of modernity. In this respect,

Anthony Giddens has argued that, rather

than contrast small-group interaction with larger

forms of communal interaction, sociologists

should focus on the more profound difference in

interaction between face-to-face encounters and

interpersonal communication with others at a distance.

The development of writing, according to

Giddens, radically extends the scope of “distanciated

interaction” whereby agents can access

the past through interaction with texts. Writing

and its technologies also fundamentally alter the

nature of the social interactions that can be

carried out: the temporal gap between agents engaged

in dialogical interaction is obviously much

less in the case of someone sending a fax to someone

on the other side of the world than would be

the case in an exchange of letters.

A persistent theme in contemporary sociology

is that globalization is reconstituting interaction

in complex and uneven ways, principally as a

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