The Humanities, the Social Sciences and the University is an intellectual history of research in the humanities and social sciences. It scrutinizes the priorities, values, objectives and publishing agendas of the modern university in order to assess the institutional pressures on research in major disciplines such as literature, history, sociology and economics. It argues that all these disciplines are currently experiencing a deep malaise – though to different degrees – due to loss of faith in the Enlightenment project, which entailed the pursuit of knowledge through reason. Extreme scepticism, promoted since the 1970s by French Theory, which regards knowledge as an instrument of power, is a major factor in this disorientation. Overall, the book concludes that though universities have grown stronger, wealthier and more powerful in the last century, the quality and seriousness of the research they typically produce are weaker and intellectually less important and the institution is in danger of losing its way.
An accessible and compelling read, this book will appeal to scholars of sociology, education and intellectual history with interests in higher education policy and academic life.