New Molecular Intellectuals and the Making Sense of Action in Social Movements

Sunday, 10 July 2016: 11:16
Location: Elise Richter Saal (Main Building)
Oral Presentation
Francesco ANTONELLI, Università degli Studi "Roma Tre", Italy
The aim of this paper is to analyze the transformation of the Public intellectuals and their relationship with the social movements: instead of an organic intellectual (Antonio Gramsci) or an intellectual vanguard, a widespread network of knowledge workers is in action at the moment. These “molecular intellectuals” are both a global critical force who express their opinions and political attitudes through Internet and the basis for the formation of the social movements (for example how happened in Arab Revolution and in Occupy Wall Street).

The differences between the critique and the political actions, knowledge workers and political intellectual function, are declining in the global world. Dignity as focus of the action and the critique, autonomy by big bureaucratic political machines, the opportunity to communication without the intermediation of mass media, self-organizations, are the main features of them. So, if it is going to analyze and understand intellectuals in contemporary world, it need to focus on intellectual actions (both critical and practice) and the social conditions of them. 

First, the paper is going to analyze briefly social theory on public intellectual, particularly focusing on the transition from a sociology about intellectuals and their sociopolitical function (Antonio Gramsci) – typical in Industrial society – to a contemporary sociology focus on intellectual action. Second, the paper is going to rethink this approach, showing how it is insufficient to understand contemporary intellectual action, based on new molecular widespread intellectuals: it need to focus on the social identity of actors. Finally, on the basis of the sociology of the Subject by Alain Touraine, the paper is going to analyze how the distinction between critical action and political activism – both on-line and off-line – is pointless by now.