Fields of Knowledge: French Academic Culture in Comparative Perspective, 1890-1920

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9780521401180: Fields of Knowledge: French Academic Culture in Comparative Perspective, 1890-1920

This book examines the outlooks of French academic historians and social scientists between about 1890 and 1920, which are in turn compared with views held on similar subjects by German academic humanists and social scientists at about the same time. The academic culture of the newly reformed French university is conceived here as an "intellectual field," a constellation of explicit intellectual positions and of implicit assumptions perpetuated by the institutions and social relations of scholarly life.
Professor Ringer attributes the divergences between the academic cultures of France and Germany to crucial differences between the compositions of the two middle classes and the roles of the academic and intellectual elites in the two societies. Arguing that ideals of education have been more central to European middle-class ideologies than is commonly supposed, the author devotes two key chapters to the debates that took place in France (as in Germany) around the turn of the century over curricular alternatives in secondary and higher education.
Conflicting models of advanced general education were anchored in alternate models of textual interpretation. Through an analysis of these models or paradigms, the author also sheds new light upon notable divergences between the development of the historical and social sciences in France and Germany, and thus makes a major contribution to the historical sociology of knowledge.

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Fritz Ringer is Mellon Professor of History, University of Pittsburgh.

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Ringer, Fritz
Published by Cambridge University Press (1992)
ISBN 10: 0521401186 ISBN 13: 9780521401180
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Fritz Ringer
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