How to Become a Dominant French Philosopher: The Case of Jacques Derrida

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How to Become a Dominant French Philosopher: The Case of Jacques Derrida

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Title: How to Become a Dominant French Philosopher: The Case of Jacques Derrida
Author: Lamont, Michele
Citation: Lamont, Michèle. 1987. How to become a dominant French philosopher: The case of Jacques Derrida. American Journal of Sociology 93, no. 3: 584-622.
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Abstract: How can a interpretive theory gain legitimacy in two cultural markets as different as France and the United States? This study examines the intellectual, cultural, institutional, and social conditions of legitimation of Jacques Derrida's work in the two countries and develops hypotheses about the process of legitimation of interpretive theories. The legitimation of Derrida's work resulted from a fit between it and highly structured cultural and institutional systems. In France, Derrida capitalized on the structure of the intellectual market by targeting his work to a large cultural public rather than to a shrinking group of academic philosophers. His work appealed to the intellectual public as a status symbol and as a novel and sophisticated way to deal with late 1960s politics. In the United States, Derrida and a group of prestigious literary critics reframed his theory and disseminated it in university departments of literature. His work was imported concurrently with the work of other French scholars with whom he shared a market. Derrida's support is more concentrated and stronger in one discipline than the support for other French intellectuals. In America, professional institutions and journals played a central role in the diffusion of his work, while cultural media were more central in France.
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  • FAS Scholarly Articles [8227]
    Peer reviewed scholarly articles from the Faculty of Arts and Sciences of Harvard University

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