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Edward Shils' Turn against Karl Mannheim: The Central European Connection

Jefferson Pooley
The American Sociologist
Vol. 38, No. 4 (Dec., 2007), pp. 364-382
Published by: Springer
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/27700518
Page Count: 19
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Edward Shils' Turn against Karl Mannheim: The Central European Connection
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Abstract

This paper traces Edward Shils' transition, during World War II, from enthusiasm to harsh criticism of Karl Mannheim, the Hungarian-born sociologist of knowledge. While serving in London, Shils drew upon a direct and explicit intellectual assault on Mannheim by fellow emigrés to England. Even while Shils maintained regular contact with Mannheim, Shils was exposed to an often vituperative dismissal of Mannheim's work by Karl Popper and Friedrich Hayek, in the pages of the London School of Economics (LSE) journal "Economica". After the war, when both Popper and Shils joined the LSE faculty–Hayek's affiliation dated to 1931—Shils' encounter with their critiques was deepened. And in these early postwar years, Shils became close friends with yet another emigré Mannheim critic, Michael Polanyi. Combined, these sustained and sophisticated criticisms helped wrest Shils from his interwar, Mannheim-friendly intellectual coordinates. The implications for Shils' later propagation of the "mass society theory" label are considered.

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