Throughout history, intellectuals have often played a key role in struggles for the modernisation of societies, national liberation and social justice. In South Africa, the history of the liberation struggle, especially from the late nineteenth century, is replete with efforts of the best intellectuals among the Black people and whites of conscience to conceptualise the cause of the liberation struggle and mobilise society against colonialism. However, in many liberated nations the role of progressive intellectuals appears to diminish after a few years.
Various factors including the poverty of depth and relevance in the humanities and social sciences has had the effect of undermining the contribution that intellectuals are able to make to the complex processes of social transformation. Arising out of all this, a gulf starts to develop between intellectuals and the political economic elites. Many intellectuals either conform to the dictates of the new socio-political environment out of the sheer pressure to maintain middle- and upper-class lifestyles, or concern themselves with mundane issues that do not advance society in any qualitative way. Others end up as shrill voices in the wilderness.
Yet, in human history, epochs of social transformation and modernisation have been anchored in profound intellectual engagement with critical questions of the day.
The Role of Intellectuals in the State-Society Nexus publication sought to explore;
- What is the place and role of intellectuals in the unfolding process of social change?
- Was the prominence of intellectual input into the strategic direction of society a unique character of the phase of resistance and the early period of transition to a democratic society?
- Is the current situation reflective of the ‘normalisation’ of society?
- What about the multitude of challenges that society faces which require ongoing theorisation?
- What is the role of intellectuals in the nexus between the state, the market and the citizenry?
To purchase a copy of this publication please contact Angela McClelland at firstname.lastname@example.org