The Sociology of Styles of Thought

Rodney D. Nelson,  The British Journal of Sociology, Vol. 43, No. 1 (Mar., 1992), pp. 25-54


Although the analysis of styles of thoughts formed the basis of Karl Mannheim’s substantive sociology of knowledge, relatively little attention has been given to the specifics of this incipient research programme. This article provides a reconstruction and critique of the basic features of the sociological analysis of styles of thought as found in the empirical work of Mannheim, C. Wright Mills, and Kurt Danziger. Some pertinent objections to Mannheim’s method of analyzing thought styles are addressed, and some comparisons are drawn between the sociology of styles of thought and kindred work in the history of ideas. I conclude with some suggestions on the kinds of research sites that could further extend the research programme of stylistic analysis of ideas.

As he concluded the final chapter of Ideology and Utopia, Karl Mannheim declared that

The most important task of the sociology of knowledge at the present is to demonstrate its capacity in actual research in the historical-sociological realm. In this realm it must work out criteria of exactness for establishing empirical truths and for assuring their control. It must emerge from the stage where it engages in casual intuitions and gross generalities (such as the crude dichotomy involved in the assertion that here we find bourgeois thinking, there we find proletarian thinking, etc.) though even this may involve sacrificing its slogan-like clearcutness. In this it can and must learn from the methods and results of the exact procedure of the philological disciplines, and from the methods used in the history of art with particular reference to stylistic succession. l

As readers of his earlier ‘Das konservative Denken’ were aware, Mannheim’s linking of the sociology of knowledge with the analysis of stylistic succession was more than a casual suggestion for future  research. That ideologies could be analyzed as evolving ‘styles of thoughts, propelled in the final analysis by social structural transform- ations, was the central theoretical message of this work on early nineteenth-century German conservatism. Mannheimss essay on ‘Conservative Thoughts has been touted as a successful example of empirical sociology of knowlede even by critics of his more con- troversial epistemological theses. Curiously, however, there has been little effort to explicate and analyze the methodology of stylistic analysis employed by Mannheim.3 With the recent full publication and English translation of Mannheim’s Habilitationsschnft on Conservatism, it is perhaps time to reexamine the status of stylistic analysis as a research programme in the sociology of knowledge.

The goal of this article is to provide a critical exposition and evaluation of the sociological analysis of styles of thought. I begin with a reconstruction and critique of Mannheim’s analysis of’styles of thoughts along with two of the most impressive subsequent sociologi- cal uses of the concept of styles of thought — those of C. Wright Mills and Kurt Danziger. This is followed by a critical assessment of the various components of Mannheimss sociology of styles of thought. I conclude with some brief suggestions on the kinds of research sites that could further extend the research programme of the sociological analysis of styles of thought.


The idea of conceptualizing ideational trends as styles of thought grew out of Mannheim’s early interest in the relationship between world- views and cultural products. European art historians had begun to advance theories about this relationship in their attempt to explain the coherence of artistic styles and, in his effort to develop an explicit methodology for analyzing worldviews in the cultural sciences, Mannheim became quite familiar with this work.4 Mannheim elevated the ‘documentary’ techniques of art historians into an interpretive method of portraying the Weltanschauung of a culture, but he also appropriated the concept of ‘style’ as a means of grouping together the form and content of political-philosophical ideas as cultural products.5

Mannheim gradually developed the idea of treating ideational trends as styles of thought in several of his early ‘historicist’ works, and he retained this ideas as he made the transition from historicism to the sociology of knowledge. The holistic implications of stylistic analysis may well have provoked Mannheim into examining the stylistic dimensions of ideas, but there were other reasons for retaining a stylistic approach. For one, it avoided the perjorative, self-interested connotations of the concept of ideology, as well as its identification  with social classes, and it allowed Mannheim to distance himself somewhat from Marxism. The stylistic approach to ideas also had the additional virtue of providing a needed ‘intermediary levels of analysis between studies of exceptional individual thinkers and studies of ‘great ideass unbounded by any spatial or temporal considerations. Both of these approaches, Mannheim argued, are oblivious to the proposal that ideas are products of specific times and places, and that the social contexts of ideas can be detected in differences in their form and content.

For Mannheim, as he announced in the introduction to ‘Conservative Thoughts, the concept of a style of thought is the heart of the method of the sociology of knowledge. A recently translated passage from ‘Das konservative Denkens provides a succinct statement of his explanatory goals for the sociology of knowledge based on the analysis of styles of thought

The sociology of knowledge faces a series of tasks, in an inquiry with such an orientation in mind: to determine the specific morphology of this style of thought [early 19th-century German conservatism]; to reconstruct its historical and sociological roots; to explore the change of forms in this style of thought in relation to the social fates of the bearing groups; to show its pervasiveness and sphere of influence in the whole of German intellectual life until the present.6

Mannheim’s most systematic exploration of styles of thought is his Habilitationsschrift, but suggestive discussions of this topic occur in his other works during this period. When the theoretical rationales and empirical procedures for analyzing the sociology of thought styles in these works are extracted from the philosophical and historiographical discourses in which they often embedded, it is possible to reconstruct Mannheim’s empirical research programme.


For Mannheim, there are two cognitive dimensions to the morphological analysis of styles of thought: the theoretically refined style of thought that can be detected in the assorted texts produced by intellectuals, and the more diffuse cognitive and emotive worldview that undergirds such a style. Both dimensions are conceptualized through ideal-typical constructs. Styles of thought and worldviews are ideal types in the sense that both are models, constructed in the course of inquiry, that accentuate various characteristics, such as the internal coherence of the component ideas of a thought-style or the conception of time in a worldview, that are unlikely to be fully exhibited in the individual textual material under study.7 It is useful to begin by describing the way in which Mannheim constructs an ideal type of a theoretical thought style, and then examine, in the following section, how he grounds such styles of thought in the ‘fundamental designs’ of worldviews.

At the beginning of an analysis of styles of thought the analyst is perforce guided, as a means of identifying and individuating a thought style, by broad ideological categorizations — such as liberal, conservative, socialist- that have been conventionally used in describ- ing the political philosophical ideas in some period. The heuristic role of such preexisting ideological classifications in defining specific styles of thought was not, however, adequately treated by Mannheim despite its obvious methodological import. He seems to have assumed that various ‘currents of thought’ lie ready at hand, having already been named and even furnished with some rudimentary character- istics by various individuals or groups innocent of any sociological designs — perhaps by philosophers or historians of ideas or even by politicians seeking to debunk the ideas of their opponents. This pre-selection of currents of thought by cultural actors who lack any sociological interest in these currents may help to ensure that such ideas do have some social and historical roots, but a more extensive examination of this issue needs to be made.

In Mannheim’s view such broadly designated currents of thought as ‘liberalism’ or ‘conservatism’ cover too much undifferentiated ideatio- nal material to function as more than an initial starting point for further stylistic analysis. The refinement of such coarse ideological categories into specific styles of thought requires an extensive inductive appraisal of recurrent themes and similarities of form and content in the primary case material. The analysis of styles of thought consequently requires the analytical construction of ideal-typical stylistic models. As is the case with ideal types, such analytical models do not claim to represent all the features of some current of thought: rather, only those features or traits of geographically and historically circumscribed strands of currents of thought that seem to possess an underlying stylistic coherence are selected and accentuated. Thus, the styles of thought that Mannheim mentions in Ideology and Utopia are given a qualifying adjective, where necessary, that indicates their historical specificity: ‘bureaucratic conservatism, conservative histori- cism, liberal-democratic bourgeois thought, the socialist communist conception, and fascism’.8

Reasoning by analogy with the prevalent views of stylistic analysis in the history of art in the 1 920s, Mannheim emphasized the importance of ascertaining similarities in the ‘form’ of ideational case material. In Ideology and Utopia, he provided a methodological guide designed to capture the formal stylistic dimensions of ‘theoretical’ thought, works produced by intellectuals which contain, as he notes, a certain degree or level of abstraction. (Such forms are, however, mixed together with  traits that might better be characterized as parts of the ‘contents’ of thought).9

Of the traits by which the perspective of an assertion may be characterized, and of the criteria which aid us to attribute it to a given epoch or situation, we will adduce only a few examples: analysis of the meaning of the concepts being used; the phenom- enon of the counter-concept; the absence of certain concepts; the structure of the categorical apparatus; the dominant models of thought; levels of abstraction; and the ontology that is presupposed. 10

Armed with such a heuristic guide, the construction of an ideal- typical style of thought proceeds in hermeneutical fashion. The researcher examines texts and documents produced in the period under study looking for intellectual traits, such as the use of a common set of concepts, that may recur. If such traits appear, the next step is to fit them together with a view towards establishing some partial coherence between these traits. The ‘testing’ of the coherence of a style of thought is hermeneutical in the sense that traits of a presumed thought style are examined against a whole that is itself partially constructed from these materials and partially from the analyst’s preconceptions; added inferences drawn from previously un- examined documents and fragments of related material help to mitigate the circularity of this procedure. Although stylistic coherence will only be partly evident in the documents of groups, the coherence of the presumed style of thought can be further reconstructed, Mannheim suggests, by combining this partial coherence with the internal semantic constraints on the concepts found in the documents. Just as an art historian can describe the limitations in a culture’s art on the basis of the possibilities inherent in the choice of artistic materials and artistic intentions, so, Mannheim argues, can a perceptive sociologist of knowledge infer the ‘logical possibilities’ contained in the key concepts of a style of thought. In constructing a coherent style of thought it is necessary ‘to grasp the unity of the style of thought in its formative principle, for which the analysis of meanings offers a firm handhold, not as an end in itself but as a resource for both investigation and proof’. 11

Although the form/content distinction is not as sharp in the analysis of styles of thought – or more generally in the analysis of ideas —as it is in the analysis of artistic styles, Mannheim shows how this distinction can be used in the analysis of the morphological structure of concrete styles of thought. In Conservatism he argues that early nineteenth- century German conservatism as a style of thought developed both an identifiable form and content which he calls its ‘central problem-complex’. In terms of its contents, conservatism as a style of thought opposed the natural-law doctrines of the original state of nature, the  social corltract, popular sovereignty, and the inalienable Rights of Man. The formal features of conservatism likewise are set in oppo- sition to natural-taw characteristics and include giving primacy to ‘being’ over ‘thinking’, emphasizing the ‘irrationality of reality’, supplanting the idea of ‘universal validity’ with that of ‘individuality’ conjoined with the concept of the social organism, adopting synoptic or totalistic methodologies rather than analytical ones, and advancing a ‘dynamic conception of reason’ in contrast to the ‘eternal norms of the Enlightenment’.12

Stylistic Morphologies in the Work of Mills and Danziger

As C. Wright Mills’s study of the social pathology orientation found in social problems texts of the 1920s and 1930s demonstrated, stylistic analysis can also be made of theoretical ideas of lesser import than grand-scale political and philosophical works. Mills outlined the traits of the social pathology thought style by documenting, as Mannheim suggested: 1) the ‘level of abstraction’ of the thought style — in this case, a very low level; 2) the phenomenon of the ‘counter-concept’ — here, such vague concepts as the ‘social order’ of ‘American culture’ as counter-concepts to structural conceptions of social totalities; 3) the ‘absence of certain concepts’ — for the pathologists, an absence of structural concepts, such as economic classes, in the interpretation of social problems; 4) the ‘categorical apparatus’— here, the categorization of social problems as ‘pathologies’; and 5) the ‘dominant ontology that is presupposed’ — in the case of the pathologists, an individualist ontology that emphasizes the individualistic character of adaptation to social change and which strives for a ‘balanced’ or ‘adjusted’ society through slow evolutionary change. 13

Although Mannheim’s historical analysis of’theoretical’ styles of thought is grounded in the study of historical texts and documents enunciating political-philosophical claims, there is no reason why the more informal styles of thought of contemporary social groups could not be identified using such ethnographic methods as interviews and participant observation.’4 The most satisfactory analysis of contemporaneous thought styles to date has been Danziger’s studies of styles of thought in South Africa. 15 Danziger used the innovative technique of having students compose essays projecting future social changes in South Africa, and from this source material he was able to analyze differences between the styles of thought of South African castes. Danziger developed a five-fold typology of styles of thought in South Africa on the basis of this material: Conservative, Technicist, Catastrophic, Liberal, and ltevolutionary. The assignment of student responses to these styles was determined by the presence of four characteristics in their essays: ‘(a) the attitude to and interrelationship of the present and the future; (b) interrelationship of historical means and ends; (c) the conception of social change; and (d) the conception of social causality’. 16

These characteristics all allude to the subject’s temporal orientation. Even more so than Mannheim, Danziger emphasizes that the strength of the sociological analysis of styles of thought resides in its ability to analyze ‘socially transcendent ideas’ which differ in their attitude toward the past, present, and future. To take but one example, the ‘catastrophic’ style of thought regards the future as the ‘catastrophic negation of present values’ and adopts a ‘fatalistic acceptance of social violence and destruction leading to a negative goal’. ln this orientation the ‘present situation necessarily deteriorates until the final cata- strophe is reacheds and consequently a fatalistic outlook is adopted which believes in ‘the inevitability of decline. 17

Clearly it is possible to detect differences in contemporary thought styles, especially, as Danziger notes, in highly stratified, unstable, societies. Danziger’s list of traits is well-suited to capture the nuances of stylistic elements in non-theoretical material, and his formulation of two new thought styles — the catastrophic and technicist — shows that styles of thought have developed in the twentieth century in com- petition with the major styles of thought born in the eighteenth and nineteenth century.


Although the analyst accentuates the stylistic coherence or unity of a set of ideas in the course of constructing an ideal-typical style of thought, a premise of Mannheim’s approach is that stylistic features and their partial coherence can ultimately be traced to an experiential source in ‘pre-theoretical’ worldviews that infuse the attitudes and beliefs of structurally located social groups

What is presupposed here throughout is that fundamental experi- ences and attitudes do not emerge in the substratum of individuals’ lives in isolation, but that individuals who are together in the same group share a basic stock of experiential contents. A further presupposition is that individual segments of experience are not to be found in isolation alongside one another within these basic forms, but rather that they possess an internal coherence and thereby constitute what may be called a ‘life-system’. 18

Mannheim’s conception of worldviews was first developed in his essay, ‘On the Interpretation of Weltanschauung‘. Here, he argues that worldviews cannot be equated with either rational or irrational beliefs and attitudes, but instead constitute an ‘unformed and wholly germinal entity’ that ‘lies beyond all realizations of meaning, although it is somehow given through them’.l9 Following Dilthey, Mannheim’s treatment of worldviews is based on a broad phenomenological conception of experience, where experience encompasses a range of cognitive and emotive dispositions and it is assumed that there is an ‘intelligible structure within experience’.20 Mannheim’s most sustained attempt to provide an ontological grounding for the sociology of knowledge occurs in his recently published essay, ‘A Sociological Theory of Culture and it Knowability (Conjunctive and Communicative Thinking).21 Kettler et al. provide a convenient summary of Mannheim’s claims in this essay

The structure of knowing, then, has at least three levels, according to Mannheim. The deepest is the primordial contagious encounter with some reality met as we act on the will we share with a community; the second is the structuring of an orienting response to that encounter, commonly by means of language and always with communal resources; and the third, conceptual and even theoreti- cal in character, reflects on the direct knowingness of the second level, the knowingness which actually constitutes the various cultural formations and the stylistic systems which they in turn comprise.22

Sidestepping the problems posed by the indefinite status of world- views as cognitive entities, Mannheim proceeded to outline an interpretive method for the analytical construction of worldviews.

Although we lack direct access to worldviews, an ideal-typical representation of a worldview can be obtained, Mannheim argued, by weaving together several ‘documentary interpretations’ or ‘synoptical appraisals’ of the ‘essential character’ of cultural objects and social actions. A worldview, as a characterization of a cultural ethos, is a synthesis of what the analyst takes to be homologous patterns in the assorted documentary interpretations of cultural products. Documentary interpretation is, accordingly, a hermeneutical enterprise in the sense that the worldview that is constructed out of specific documentary appraisals is continually modified by the new infor- mation that is revealed through additional documentary appraisals, and, of course, subsequent documentary interpretations are constrained by viewing actions or objects through the lens of the worldview that is being constructed.23

In Conservatism Mannheim added a conceptual distinction not found in his ‘Weltanschauung‘ essay. He now distinguishes the general worldview of a group, which he calls an ‘historical-dynamic structural complex’, and the ‘inner core’ of basic attitudes that structure or organize other cultural elements. This inner core of ‘fundamental designs’ is a further analytical condensation of worldviews into a basic mental template, or ordering design, directing cognition and affect along certain lines.24 Presumably, Mannheim felt that the cultural material captured by the concept of Weltanschauung was too diffuse to be used as an explanatory factor in the origin and development of styles of thought. Fundamental designs, however, are constructed through the same documentary method as worldviews and, for that matter, styles of thought. The direct grasping of fundamental designs or stylistic principles is precluded by their atheoretical status, but such designs can be inferred from the valuational connotations that thinkers associated with structural groupings place on key concepts in their thought, and from the way they frame the problems they are attempting to answer. Such valuational commitments provide docu- mentary evidence of an underlying fundamental design. Although the broad worldview of a group would be of importance in explaining the cultural history of a social group, for the purpose of completing the morphology of a style of thought only the ideal-typical ‘fundamental design’ of a group’s worldview needs to be constructed.

Fortunately, Mannheim provides an example of this interpretive procedure in his reconstruction of the fundamental design of early German conservatism. This species of conservatism, associated with the landed aristocratic estates, valued concreteness and contingency over abstraction and speculation; it exhibited, as Mannheim puts it, a strong predisposition towards ‘clinging to what is immediate and concrete in a practical way’.25 Reacting to the tendency of progressiveness to frame problems in abstract and speculative ways, conserva- tives were moved to accentuate the concrete, existing features of things. Mannheim argues that this aspect of the conservative Weltanschauung can be detected in the way in which the concepts of property and freedom are treated by conservative writers. Rather than viewing property as a merely legal relationship between owner and possession, conservative writers stressed the intimacy and non-fungibility of the relationship of owning property, and in so doing they ‘registered the nature of estate-conservative experience of proprietorship’.26 Similarly, the conservative conception of freedom emphasized the ‘qualitative’ character of freedom wherein ‘freedom consists in the condition in which each and everyone, in accordance with his innermost principle, actualizes the laws of development uniquely peculiar to himself.27 Such a conception neatly coincides with the privileged opportunity structure of these aristocratic groups. Egalitarian connotations of freedom are rejected and the freedom of individuals and collectivities to develop their inner potentialities is substituted as the ‘real’ meaning of freedom. The fundamental design of early nineteenth century German conservatism is also revealed by the way in which it characteristically chose to give meaning to individual items of experience. Rather than interpreting particulars in terms of how they fit into some abstract class, set, or norm, ‘conservative thinking derives the meaning of the particular from something that lies behind it, from the past or from what has been prefigured in germ’.28 The conservative experience of time illustrates this tendency: the present is experienced by the conservative as simply ‘the latest stage reached by the past’ and not as ‘the beginning of the future’.

In his study of South African thought styles, Danziger took over Mannheim’s conception of the experiential basis of styles of thought

[The categories of historical time] are based on a certain dynamic orientation to the social process as a whole, a ‘dominant wish’, a basic motive with regard to the reality of social change. Out of this wish arise specific Weltwollungen, an ‘intellectual motivation’ to impose one or other system on the world, both cognitively and in action. These notions carry the strong implication that men are to be studied as the producers rather than as the ‘consumers’ of ideas.29

These ‘intellectual motivations’ are correlated with social groups, but each social position is not restricted to only one such historical orientation. Rather the ‘extent of this range varies for different groups at different times’.30 The Afrikaaner students, for example, tended to adopt either conservative or ‘technicist’ historical orientations, but a smaller number could be found among the ‘catastrophic’ and even liberal orientations.

Mills also acknowledged the explanatory necessity of imputing styles of thought to experiential conditions, but his conceptions of such experiential sources borrows little from Mannheim’s specific conception of Weltanschauungen.31 Social pathology as a thought style stems in part from the systematization imposed by the textbook format of presentation, the production of which is linked to the career exigencies of these sociologists. But it also can be imputed to the social backgrounds of these sociologists, in particular, the relatively homogeneous rural environments of their youth and the subsequent professional and business ‘reform’ environments of their professional careers. Their further rooting in a generation of Americans experiencing upward mobility led them to acquire arl elective affinity with notions of progress based on increased rationality and technical invention and this led to their ready adoption of the concept of ‘culture lag’. The ideal of adjustment spawned by such a social perspective is, as Mills puts it in his closing sentence, ‘the norms of independent persons verbally living out Protestant ideals in the small towns of America’.32


That worldviews and their attendant styles of thought are connected to structural divisions in societies is a central proposition of Mannheim’s sociology of knowledge. The linkages he draws between social structure worldview, and styles of thought are considerably more complex than his critics have sometimes assumed. For Mannheim, two ‘bearing groups’ are involved in the creation and development of a style of thought: the social group that ‘bears’ the underlying world- view in response to its experiential conditions, and the intellectual strata furnishing the theoreticians who transform worldviews into style of thought. The ‘problem of imputation’ that has vexed the sociology of knowledge clearly requires that the social position of both these groups, as well as their interaction, must be accounted for in any empirical study of styles of thought.

When Mannheim shortened his Habilitationsschrift for journal publication, he omitted a section of his thesis dealing with the issue of imputation of styles of thought to social groups.33 Here Mannheim set out an important statement of his views on the relationship between causal and ‘meaningful’ imputations of ideas to social strata. A causal imputation consists of the furnishing of evidence that the use of a particular meaning of a concept ‘arose in the course of political and ideological conflict’ between social strata. It thus ties the origins and changes in styles of thought to specific social groups. A ‘meaningful’ imputation relates a particular concept to a specific fundamental design of a style of thought. Ideally, causal and meaningful imputations should be made throughout the analysis of the career of a style of thought. However, as the evidence required for the causal imputation of a style of thought is difficult to come by, Mannheim argues that it is sufficient to conjointly produce causal and meaningful imputations at the ‘cornerstones’ of a style of thought; in intervening periods, when evidence is not so readily available for causal imputations, the analyst is typically forced to rely on meaningful impu- tations alone.34

Social Roots of Worldviews

Worldviews, such as that of early nineteenth-century German conservatism, originate in the life experiences of individuals differentially interacting with each other and with their surrounding material conditions. Mannheim, thus, associates worldviews with concrete social groups. But, as Abercrombie and Longhurst have noted, with the exception of his essay on generations, Mannheim says very little about the mechanisms underlying group formation.35 He simply assumes that social groupings exist for a variety of reasons, and in a variety of forms — e.g., economic classes as well as ‘generations, stattls groups, sects, occupational groupings, schools, etc.’.36 Presumably all social groupings that have a certain amount of durability have the capacity to generate a common outlook or worldview among their members. Thus in Conservatism Mannheim imputes the conservative style of thought to the German landed estates as a social grouping.

Clearly socioeconomic forces have become a major underlying structural factor in the formation of modern social groups, but in a passage from his essay on ‘The Distinctive Character of Cultural- Sociological Knowledge’ Mannheim argues that the communal basis of experience is not adequately captured by the Marxian conception of economic classes

The one-sidedness of Marxism consists in the fact that economic-social forms push aside all other forms of social aggregation, even though it is not at all clear why other socializing factors cannot be coordinated with ideologies. The fact of having to function economically is undoubtedly one of the most powerful socializing factors, if for no other reason than that it gives rise to a continuous, persistent, compulsory association among human beings. But it is also the case that this association lies too far from the inner centre of experience to account for the more sublime manifestations of the experiential contextures which are nevertheless shared. It always remains the more or less peripheral limiting framework of world-view systems. If only socio-economically oriented concepts are to be taken as being at the level of social concepts, it is necessary to suppress or neglect a great many experiential contextures, which are nevertheless socially conditioned.37

Mannheim, as well as Mills and Danziger, tends to eschew reduc- tive interest-based explanations of the development of styles of thought, and he does not equate group worldviews with class consciousness in the Marxian sense. A group’s worldview, as translated into a style of thought, may have the effect of furthering its interests vis-a-vis other social groups, but there is no necessary correlation of worldviews and the advancement of economic interests. A group’s worldview, for example, may very well be oriented towards an ‘experiential center’ that is losing its structural supports. Such was the case with the social pathologists analyzed by Mills. The social pathologists generated their specific style of thought because it was congruent with their socially located perspectives, not because they had any intentional desire to produce apologies for the bour- geois character of American society.

Although Mannheim lacks an explicitly structural theory of group conflict that would attribute such conflict to competition over scarce resources of one sort or another, he argues that in situations of group conflict the underlying worldviews, or more exactly the fundamental designs, of the groups involved will form the cognitive basis for the articulation of styles of thought that explicitly defend the reactive or proactive lifestyle ‘commitments’ of the groups. Large-scale economic changes which displace the mode of living of social groups stimulate the production of styles of thought as groups realize that their existing ways of life are threatened. In such situations everyday modes of experience may be ‘raised’ to the level of theoretical reflection. This was what Mannheim claimed occurred in the development of German conservatism

In place of the simple habit of living more or less unconsciously, as though the old ways of life were still appropriate, we now find a deliberate effort to maintain the old ways by raising them to the level of reflection, to the ‘level of recollection’. The conservative mode of experience thus preserves itself, as it were, by raising to the level of reflection and methodical control those attitudes to the world which would otherwise have been lost to authentic experience (emphasis in original).38

Intellectuals as Producers of Styles of Thought

Interest in the putative epistemological role that Mannheim assigns to intellectuals in Ideology and Utopia has tended to deflect attention from the pivotal role he assigns them in the construction of styles of thought. Without an intellectual stratum versed in the arts of theoretical systematization and disputation it is unlikely that styles of thought could develop from the pre-theoretical realm of worldviews. The ‘fundamental design’ or ‘germ’ of a worldview associated with a social group requires the transforming theoretical work of intellec- tuals in order to be systematically packaged as styles of thought. Some intellectuals must therefore come into contact with these fundamental designs and be willing, and able, to articulate in theoretical terms their atheoretical content.

The ‘pool’ of available intellectuals in the modern world has two central characteristics, according to Mannheim: First, it is socially heterogeneous, and, second, its lack of organizational structure prevents it from producing an autonomous worldview of its own.39

[The free intelligentsia’s] chief characteristic is that it is increasingly recruited from varying social strata and life-situations, and that its mode of thought is no longer subject to caste-like organization. Due to the absence of a social organization of its own, the intellectuals have allowed those ways of thinking and experiencing to get a hearing which openly competed with one another in the larger world of the other strata.40

Intellectuals, in short, as an ‘interstitial stratum’ are admirably suited to function as the theoretical developers of the attitudes of social strata outside of their own socializing experiences and as ‘carriers’ of diverse styles of thought.4′ Clearly, intellectuals need to have some contact with such groups and strata in order to start the process of theorizing ‘pre-theoretical’ attitudes, but the nature and duration of such contact is left unspecified by Mannheim. In his ‘Toward a Sociological Theory of Culture’, he argues that with the formation of a ‘cultivated culture’ of intellectuals in cities, incipient styles of thought receive an accelerated development.42 Intellectuals are able to grasp the ‘germs’ and ‘tendencies’ of specific styles that they come into contact with, and they then ‘independently work out’ the immanent consequences of these fundamental designs on the plane of styles of thought.

Why specific intellectuals align themselves with certain social groups to the point where they take on the vicarious task of developing the group’s worldview into a style of thought is, for Mannheim, a historical problem requiring case-by-case analysis. Some intellectuals may in fact come from the social group whose thought style they are developing, other intellectuals may simply be ‘hired pens’ affiliated in some quasi-retainer way witli a social group. In both of these cases, intellectuals are actively producing a style of thought for a contemporaneous social group. But Mannheim also leaves open the possibility that a style of thought compatible with the worldview of a group may have already been produced by some preceding intellectual ‘forerunner’. Because there is a great deal of flux in the socio-historical changes that generate new social locations, it is possible that an intellectual, for a number of idiosyncratic reasons, may have formulated ideas and attitudes that are taken up by social groups that come into being at a later date.43 The theoretical ideas developed by these intellectuals turned out to be ‘valid’ for the experiential situation of groups to which they themselves could not have belonged, yet their ideas are available for selection by these groups.

Stylistic Change

Although Mannheim argues that some changes in the contours of a style of thought occur through a process of immanent development, he also emphasizes the way in which analytical distinctions, and other features of styles of thought, can be traced to processes of social group competition.44 In situations where multiple styles of thought co-exist, a conceptual innovation in one style of thought that makes this style appear more adequate as an interpretation of the world will typically be adopted in modified form by competitor styles of thought.45 In analyzing this process whereby ideas are diffused from one style of thought to another, Mannheim uses the metaphor of the ‘angle of refraction’ of ideas. A sociologist of knowledge would want, for example, to trace the evolution of ideas in some new context or synthesis after they have become dissociated from their origin.46 Successful ideational variants do not long remain the sole property of the thought style of the originating group. For example, the Marxist use of ideological debunking as a weapon against other thought styles was soon taken over by these thought styles and turned back on Marxism.

Another related feature of the analysis of styles of thought is the occasional (and usually temporary) uniting of diverse styles of thought into a larger synthesis.47 ‘Intellectual positions’ is a term Mannheim uses to refer to ‘a conjuncture where an especially important and representative synthesis of intellectual currents comes about’.48 The projected design for his study of early nineteenth-century German conservatism was to include a number of such conjunctures: ‘the synthesis between the estates-related and romantic thought; the beginnings of the historical school; Hegel; the party of the Politische Wochenblatt (Political Weekly); Metternich’s standpoint; Stahl; and late romanticism’.49

The occurrence of such stylistic syntheses cannot be predicted, but if, as Danziger has suggested, temporal orientation is the dominant feature of any style of thought, one might expect that only those styles of thought that contain congruent conceptions of historical time will merge with any stability.50 More short-term syntheses might, however, form around such other stylistic features as the ‘interrelationship of means and ends … the conception of social change … and the conception of social causality’.5′ The historical relationship of Romanticism to such ‘megastyles’ as Liberalism, Conservatism, and Radicalism, an issue on which Mannheim’s views have been criticized, may perhaps be explained by examining which Romanticist traits were incorporated into these ideologies and for what duration.52


Having set out what I take to be the essentials of Mannheim’s research program in the sociology of styles of thought, it remains to examine some of the criticisms that have been brought against it as well as to offer a summary assessment of its viability as a current area of research.

Styles of Thought as Ideal Types

Critics of Mannheim have questioned the methodological propriety of conceiving of styles of thought as ideal types. In contrast to descriptive concepts that are generated in an inductive manner by aggregating characteristics of individual phenomenon, the point has been made that the artificiality of ideal types as ‘analytical constructs’ obscures the facticity of styles of thought. As Child objected, far ‘from being a reconstruction of reality, this ideal type or integrated totality would seem to exist solely in the mind of the investigator’.53 Such a criticism of the use of ideal types is not, of course, unique to Mannheim’s styles of thought, and is based on a misapprehension of both the role that ideal types are designed to play in social research and the extent to which they are constructed without reference to empirical material.  For Weber, ideal types are explicitly regarded as heuristic devices that aid in the formulation of causal hypotheses, they are not in themselves hypotheses. With this in mind, styles of thought provide a means of measuring the extent to which particular thinkers approximate a style of thought; hypotheses can then be formulated as to the reasons for their closeness to or divergence from the style type. The extent to which ideal types are formulated solely in the mind of the investigator is also misleading, the one-sided exaggeration of ideal types such as styles of thought implies that they do have contact with some empirical material to the extent that the investigator knows what aspects of it he or she is exaggerating. The stylistic traits that are emphasized do ‘hang together’ to some extent in the empirical material, even though the extent of their copresence and coherence will likely be less than that of the ideal-typical thought style. The ‘integrated totality’ of a style of thought is obtained by the hermeneutical act of detecting what appear to be homologous formulations in separate pieces of thought, and what look to be regularly (but not invariably) occurring compatibilities between different kinds of homologies. Furthermore a reconstructed style of thought may fail to make sense of the empirical material to which it is applied and will consequently need modification in the light of evidence that some particular strands of thought are not typically conjoined as the analyst had initially assumed. The value of an ideal type is that it allows us to fit certain ideas into a common frame and it allows us to see how ideas located in different times and regions diverge from the style of thought we have created on the basis of materials drawn from a particular time and place. Thus Mannheim’s portrait of early, nineteenth-century German conservatism as a style of thought can be used to assess both changes that occurred in later forms of German conservatism and cross-cultural differences in other European forms of conservatism.54

Worldviews and Concept Formation

Much more contentious than the use of ideal-typical constructs is Mannheim’s view that the documentary homologies on which styles of thought are constructed show evidence of the effects of an underlying worldview and its fundamental design. As his concept of fundamental design suggests, Mannheim conceives of Weltanschauung as a structural property of culture generating formal homologies in both theoretical discourse and in such ‘atheoretical’ cultural objectifications as art, mores, and religion. This leaves Mannheim with the problem of specifying the source of these structural properties. In his essay on Weltanschauung he locates this source in the ‘spontaneous, unintentional, basic impulses of a culture’, and later, as he made the shift to Wissenssoziologie, to the existential experiences of social groups.55 No specific social psychological mechanisms generating cultural differences in the attitudes and perceptions of social groups are adduced by Mannheim apart from the general claim that differential perception and cogitation are associated with divisions in social locations.

Like his forerunners in the hermeneutical traditionh Mannheim neglects the role of language in shaping experience. His ‘expressivist’ theory of meaning assumes that experientially-based worldviews structure language rather than being predominantly shaped by linguistic categories and concepts.5fi This stance is not easily reconciled with the role that Mannheim is prepared to grant to preceding intellectual traditions in the formation of styles of thought. A more acceptable position would take into consideration the mutual interpenetration of nondiscursive experience and discursive representations of experience. Danziger’s analysis shows, in fact, the extent to which styles of thought can be detected in the nontheoretical projections of social groups.

Certainly Mannheim’s conception of group-based worldviews needs to be recast in the theoretical language of contemporary psychology and scrutinized against recent work on the relationship between attitudes and beliefs and social structure.57 However, the fact that Mannheim, Mills and Danziger were able to construct convincing thought styles in the absence of such foundations suggests that it is not a fatal impediment to analyses of styles of thought.

Styles of Thought and the History of Ideas

At this point it is worth considering what distinguishes Mannheim’s stylistic ‘morphology’ of ideas from other categorizations of ideas in the history of ideas and philosophy. The conceptualization of morphological traits used in the construction of a style of thought clearly overlaps with that of other approaches to the history of ideas. Classifying recurrent t.raits in ideas, and even developing typologies based on these traits, has been a common practice in the history of ideas. Some of the characteristics or traits, if not the typologies, singled out by intellectual historians and philosophers are quite similar to those proposed by Mannheim.58 Most philosophically inclined historians of ideas, for example, routinely search out the ‘meaning of concepts’ and the ‘structure of the categorical apparatus’ used by thinkers as well as the implicit ontological assumptions underpinning theoretical ideas. What is more, it is not uncommon to find casual references to ‘styles of thought’ in their analyses. What is perhaps distinctive about Mannheim’s list of traits are his ideas regarding the absence of certain concepts and existence of ‘counter-concepts’ as two diagnostic characteristics of styles of thought; traits which presuppose the existence of multiple styles of thought. Where older efforts in the philosophical history of ideas that proceed along similar lines, such as  those presented by Lovejoy, Pepper, and McKeon, typically differ from Mannheim is in their disinterest in the social sources and periodization of such ideational traits; their categorizations of ideas are honed on the analysis of ‘great ideas,’ detecting semantic similarities between disconnected and decontextualized ideas. Furthermore, they also exhibit a general inattentiveness to the differences, as well as the connections, between theoretical and nontheoretical sorts of ideas.

Newer trends in intellectual history do situate innovations in political ideologies in the context of existing political ‘vocabularies’ or ‘languages,’ and are accordingly closer to Mannheim’s styles of thought, but their primary interest is in the ‘language-illocution’ relationship rather than the ‘language-society’ relationship.59 The linguistic context of ideational changes becomes paramount in the work of Skinner, Pocock, and Dunn; as Toews remarks of Pocock’s work, ‘economic processes and political events play an important role but largely as experiences that demand response rather than determine what that response will be’.60 However, despite their abhorrence of the sociology of knowledge, their description of the political languages or traditions that arise out of the rhetorical strategies employed by actors to legitimize desired social cllanges, brings their work very close to the morphological analysis of styles of thought.61

Where the morphology of styles of thought developed by Mann- heim, as well as Mills and Danziger, differs most strongly from both the old and new approaches to the history of ideas is in the emphasis it gives to temporal orientation as the dominant stylistic dimension. Mannheim’s distinction between ideology and utopia reflects this concern, as does Danziger’s typology of South African thought styles. The fact that this dimension dominates the stylistic typologies of sociologists is related to the emphasis they place on the experiential foundations of styles of thought, a concern that is often muted in philosophers’ typologies of ideas.

Worldviews and Social Structure

Just as Mannheim’s critics assailed his treatment of styles of thought as ideal types so has his handling of the problem of imputing styles of thought to social groups come in for harsh criticism. Early on Speier pointed to the thinness of Mannheim’s own empirical imputations, observing that Mannheim ‘analyzes only the thought of intellectuals and not that of groups’.62 And Carlsnaes has claimed that Mannheim’s sociological imputations in ‘Conservative Thought’ are tautological. Following Rueschmeyer, he argues that

. . . the groups to which thought-totalities are imputed are to a large extent defined in terms of the imputed structures themselves. In other words, not only are ‘thought-systems’ themselves reified and holistic structures, but so too are the ‘groups’ to which they are  imputed; and since both are defined in terms of each other, it is easy to see how any statement about the relationship which is said to hold between the two becomes true simply by definition.63

It can readily be granted that there is a relative paucity of social historical analysis in Conservatism; a demographic portrait of the German aristocracy in the early nineteenth century and a rigorous documentation of shifts in their socioeconomic status would have added greatly to the analysis. But it is also clear that Mannheim had abandoned by this time the view, found in his essay on Weltanschauung, that the ‘collective subject’ to which a worldview was imputed was methodologically distinct from the ’empirical collective subjects’, such as social classes, identified through-sociological categories. Such real social groupings are the source of worldviews and styles of thought, even though not all members of such groups need to profess allegiance to the worldview typical of their group. The empirical problems of determining the worldviews of the non-intellectual members of historically distinct groups, as well as the fact that stylistic homologies are found in the theoretical statements of intellectuals, accounts for the reliance on ‘the thought of intellectuals’ in Conservatism. With the recent development, however, of strategies and techniques of combing unforeseen documentary materials of popular culture, the mentalities and worldviews of social groups are being reconstructed without having to rely exclusively on the works on intellectuals.

From Worldviews to Styles of Thought

In Conservatism Mannheim invokes elite patronage and differential selection of the works of intellectuals as two mechanisms connecting the worldviews of the landed aristocracy with the conservative style of thought. These are unobjectionable explanations of the development of thought styles, although here again Mannheim does not provide enough detail regarding how these mechanisms worked in his specific case of early nineteenth-century conservatism. The landed aristocracy need to perceive a threat to their way of life or an opportunity to advance it in some way — presumably the former is more common — and they need to take steps to see that an intellectual response is made to legitimate their position. As such they can support intellectuals who can write such legitimations and indicate to them the kind of values that they wish to see preserved and the kind of values they wish to see destroyed. Alternatively, intellectuals may have enough familiarity with the social divisions within a society, and enough inclination and wherewithal to independently produce intellectual works that take the side of one or another faction. The selection of such works — through sales or various sinecures — by those whose values are being defended may act as a catalyst for further efforts by others along the same lines, thus generating a style of thought.

How much of this scenario requires a comparatively heterogeneous society and intellectuals who are willing to curry favour with social groups in order for these mechanisms — sponsorship and selection on the part of the elite, and a desire for rewards from the elite on the part of the intellectuals — to come into play is a moot question. Furthermore, Mannheim’s analysis is faced with the anomaly of ascribing styles of thought to non-elite groups that would seem to lack the wherewithal to reward intellectuals. Some supplementary explanations need to be adduced for these cases, or else the specific imputations made for these groups need to be reassessed.64 The question also needs to be posed as to whether modern communi- cations media have radically altered the nature of the selective ‘feedback’ from worldviews to the production and retention of changes in the ‘mega-styles of thought’ of modern ideologies. Mannheim’s suggestion that the intellectual producers of styles of thought need to have some contact with worldviews similarly stands in need of further elucidation. Here, the nature of such contact in contemporary societies is mediated in myriad ways that differ from Mannheim’s historical examples of stipends dispensed from aristocratic sources in nineteenth-century Germany.

Stylistic Change

It is clear that Mannheim’s conception of stylistic analysis and change, along with that of the art historians who were his contemporaries, has its source in Hegel’s philosophy of history.65 Mannheim retains two sorts of’essentialist’ beliefs from this heritage: First, the idea that some unity exists in the cultural beliefs and products of historical periods due to structurally induced similarities in social experiences; cultural products, including ideas, have a ‘communal experiential contexture stored up in [them]’.66 And, secondly, the idea that the inner core or ‘fundamental design’ of a worldview contains a ‘germinal essence’ which gives rise to a common developmental pattern in cultural products. The former idea, at least in Mannheim’s substantive Wissenssoziologie essays, hardly seems as perilous as Gombrich and Popper have made it out to be.67 Their main criticism of the historicist use of worldviews is that its proponents make the unsubstantiated claim that there is a ‘necessary connection’ between all aspects of a group’s activities and products. As Gombrich argues …

it is extremely hazardous to make inferences from one such manifestation to all the others even when we know the context and conventions extremely well. Where this knowledge is lacking, nobody would venture such a diagnosis. Yet, it is this paradoxically which the diagnosticians of group styles claim to be able to do. More often than not, they are simply arguing in a circle and inferring 0 from the static or rigid style of a tribe that its mentality must also be static or rigid.68

Such incautious claims that stylistic isomorphisms between various cultural products and activities are ‘necessary’ in a Hegelian sense can be found among early twentieth-century art historians69 and there are passages in Mannheim’s essay on worldviews which could well indict him on this charge, but as he increasingly adopted a sociological frame of reference these sorts of claims began to drop out of his work. Documentary isomorphisms can be contingently and probabilistically related to socially structured experiences and still be of explanatory value to the social scientist who is not engaged in the quest for nomothetic laws of style of thought. Gombrich’s strictures have force against the strawman he presents in the last sentence of the above quote, but that sort of vulgar sociolog of knowledge is something that Mannheim consistently repudiated.

The second sort of essentialism that can be found in Mannheim is more disconcerting. In Conservatism and in ‘The Problem of Generations Mannheim appears to embrace the idea (of Hegelian origin, but derived in these two cases from Riegl and Pinder) that cultural products actually contain entelechies; that the development of a style of thought is in some indeterminable sense prefigured by its origin in a specific worldview.71 If Mannheim is arguing in these works that styles of thought contain teleological entelechies guiding their growth (and there is enough ambiguity in the pertinent sections of these works to lend caution in making this claim),72 then this certainly must be rejected, just as Mannheim rejected ‘immanentist’ explanations of the history of ideas in his later works. Less offensively, one could claim, on analogy with evolutionary theorizing about the effects that morpho- logical constraints exert on the channeling of possible routes of natural selection in different species, that the initial conceptual and categorical structure of a style of thought constrains the range of subsequent ‘developmental pathways’ of the style, but does not, as do teleological entelechies, uniquely determine the choice of any one path. But more importantly a teleological interpretation of styles of thought would conflict with the emphasis Mannheim gives to the modifications made in styles of thought due to the incorporation of strands of ideas from opposing styles. 73


This paper has tried to substantiate two claims that the sociological analysis of styles of thought was central to Mannheim’s own conception of a substantive sociology of knowledge, and that this research programme is ‘doable’ —as the work of Mills and Danziger, in addition to that of Mannheim, illustrates. I also suggested that this program has sociological virtues not found in contemporary approaches in intellec- tual history.

The conception of styles of thought captures the idea that ideologies are composed of diverse strands of thought that can be analytically identified through stylistic nuances of form and content. My main purpose has been to outline the main themes of this program that are presented in a rather turgid and scattered form in the works of Mannheim. The basic framework or core of Mannheim’s approach has been retained: the proposition that one can represent the stylistic features or ‘morphologies’ of modes of thought by means of ideal types; that the ultimate source of stylistic traits resides in the differential experiences of social groups, particularly their temporal orientations; that intellectuals transform the fundamental designs of worldviews into styles of thought; and that stylistic change results from the clash of opposing thought styles. It seems evident, however, that many elements of that framework need to be recast in the terms of modern sociology and knit together in more convincing ways.

The application and extension of Mannheim’s program of stylistic analysis to other ideological beliefs is obviously paramount to its revitalization. That the analysis of styles of thought is not limited to historically distant eras is shown by Mills’s and Danziger’s work. The sociology of conservative thought in more recent times and places would be an obvious place to build on Mannheim’s pioneering work. Clearly, such work would have to chart the complex intertwining of libertarian, communal, and elitist styles of thought in conservative ideologies. Another avenue of research would involve the detection of innovative styles of thought in contemporary societies along the lines of Danziger’s analysis of South African thought styles. The distinctive- ness of such newly vaunted modes of thought as ‘post-modernism’ and environmentalism could function as strategic research sites for the sociology of styles of thought. Danziger rightly stresses that temporal orientation is the most salient feature of worldviews for sociological research on styles of thought, and if Mannheim’s analysis of the social bases of styles of thought is to be extended to contemporary societies some structurally based differences in the temporal orientations of these putative styles of thought would have to be uncovered.


1. K. Mannheim, Ideology and Utopia, London, Kegan Paul, Trench, Trubner and Co.,1936, pp. 27>76.

2. See L. A. Coser, Masters of Sociological Thought, New York, Harcourt Brace Jovanovich. 1977, p.433; and R. Nisbet, ‘Conservatism’ in Bottomore and Nisbet (eds), A History of Sociological Analysis, New York, Basic Books,1978, p.81.

3. The fact that the English translation of ‘Conservative Thought’ – itself a truncated version of Mannheim’s (1925) Heidelberg Habilitationsschrift— appeared some 17 years after the translation of Ideology and Utopia, at a time when interest in the sociology of knowledge had all but subsided, muted the potential impact of Mannheim’s stylistic analysis on empirical research. If anything, there was a deter- mination to reduce sociology’s intellectual dependence on the humanities, and calls for closer methodological affiliations would have found few sympathetic listeners. Some of this neglect of Mannheim’s ideas regarding styles of thought can be attributed to the absence of English translations of Mannheim’s essays from the 1920s. However, even such perceptive critics as Merton and Child (both of whom read German) only gave a passing notice to such articles as ‘Das konservative Denken’ (‘Conservative Thought’) and ‘Die Bedeutung der Konkurrenz im Gebiete des Geistigen’ (‘Competition as a Cultural Phenomenon’) in their explications of Mannheim’s work. But lack of translations cannot be the whole story; there were after all a number of references to ‘styles of thought’ in Ideology and Utopia. In his essay on Mannheim, Merton detected a “‘quasi-aesthetic” assumption’ involving intellectual styles as one of the presumed connections between knowledge and social structure, but he went on to argue that ‘this particular assumption plays no large part in Mannheim’s substantive researches,’ R. K. Merton, ‘Karl Mannheim and the Sociology of Knowledge’, Journal of Liberal Education, vol.2, no.3,1941, pp. 13v39.

4. See A. Hauser, The Philosophy of Art History, New York, Alfred A. Knopf, 1958, pp. 119-276.

5. Mannheim’s attentiveness to issues in the analysis of ‘style’ was an indirect development of his (and that of other Hungarian intellectuals associated with Georg Lukacs) concern for the cultural revitalization of European society (see D. Kettler, ‘Culture and Revolution: Lukacs in the Hungarian Revolution of 1918/19’, Telos, no. 10, 1971, pp. 3i-92; L. Congsdon, ‘Karl Mannheim as Philosopher’, Journal of European Studies, vol.7, no. 1, 1977, pp. 1-18; and M. Gluck, Georg Lukac.s and His Generation, 1900-1918, Cambridge, Harvard University Press, 1985). Among Mannheim’s early friends and associates in Budapest were the future art historians Frederick Antal, Arnold Hauser, and Charles de Tolnay. Antal and Hauser made notable attempts to link artistic styles with social contexts (see F. D. Martin, ‘The Sociological Imperative of Stylistic Development’, Bucknell Revinw, vol. l l , no. 4, 1963, pp.54-80). Hans Speier notes that Mannheim’s essay ‘On the Interpretation of Weltanschauung’ grew out of ‘the en- couragement and the direct invitation of the art historian Max Dvorak to demonstrate the relationship of art history with the study of ideas’ (H. Speier, ‘Mannheim as a Sociologist of Knowledge’, International Journal of Politics, Culture and Society, vol. 2, no. 1, 1988, p.91. In ‘On the Interpretation of Weltanschauung’, Mannheim is mainly occupied with the task of developing an explicit method for the analysis of worldviews — which he terms ‘documentary interpretation’ — and, in the process justifying the use of holistic concepts like Weltanschaeung in the ‘cultural sciences’. He refers at different points in this essay to artistic styles, but he does not unambiguously associate such stylistic phenomena with any one of his three modes of ‘objective’, ‘expressive’, or ‘documentary’ interpretation. At the end of this essay, Mannheim briefly discusses the ways in which Weltanschauung have been linked to cultural products by art historians in their research on artistic styles. In particular, he contrasts two sorts of connections found in the works of “‘synthesizing” historians’. Some historians, such as Max Weber, regard worldviews as a kind of cultural unity that arises from various reciprocal causal connections between ‘material’ and cultural processes. Weltanschauang is conceived by these historians as simply the contingent cultural homologies established in the course of social change. Other historians, such as Max Dvorak, note various parallelisms or correspondences between cultural entities but interpret such similarities as expressions or emanations of a common underlying Weltansschauung. Mannheim, in this pre-Wisserssoziologie essay, eschews ‘causal, genetic explanations of meanings’ in the realm of culture and sides with Dvorak against Weber (K. Mannheim, ‘On the Interpretation of Weltanschauung‘, in Wolff (ed.) From Karl Mannheim, New York, Oxford University Press, 1971, p. 56).

6. K. Mannheim, Conservatism: A Con-tribution to the Sociology of Knowledge, London, Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1986.

7. That the analyst might uncover some statement that, for all intents and purposes, replicates his or her formulation of a style of thought cannot be ruled out even though such an occurrence would be exceedingly rare. Also, if the analyst is studying contemporary ideas, there is the distinct possibility that his or her formulation of a style of thought may exert a reactive attraction on its carriers such that their subsequent pronouncements begin to exhibit the same coherence as the analyst’s construct.

8. Mannheim, op. cit., 1936, p. 104. This analytical strategy is similar to that taken by art historians in their reflections on artistic styles. Gombrich, for example, has noted that artistic styles are at least initially defined through cultural com- petition, where contending movements denigrate their competitors’ cultural ob- jects by inventing terms and principles of exclusion. Movements become adept at identifying stylistic features of objects they dislike, but they are less successful in formulating positive stylistic principles of their own movements (E. Gombrich, ‘Norm and Form: The Stylistic Categories of Art History and their Origins in Renaissance Ideals’, in his Norrn and Forrn, London, Phaidon, 1966, p. 89). At this point the theorist might step in and coordinate the various exclusionary prin- ciples as part of a more systematic cataloging of styles. So, just as this conflict between participants in artistic movements may help delineate artistic styles, the normativeconflictofsocial groups has, as Mannheim saw, dividends for the sociologist of knowledge studying styles of thought.

9. Such traits as the ‘level upon which problems are defined’ or the structure of the categorical apparatus would seem to be unambiguously formal elements of a style of thought, but ‘the meaning of the concepts being used’ would seem to be part of the content of a style (Mannheim, op. cit., 1986, p. 56). At least this is the way Mannheim treats concepts in Ideology and Utopia where he describes the historical transition in psychology from concepts ‘with qualitative rich contents’ (such as sin, despair, Christian love) to more forma- lized and mechanical concepts (e.g., li- bido, anxiety, etc.), see Mannheim, op. cit., 1936, p. 15. In Conservatism Mannheim makes the argument that the changes in the form of thought styles proceed at a slower rate than the specific contents of these styles: Continuity in styles of thought is ‘naturally more pronounced in thefornss of thinking than in the contents of thinking, so that a certain persistence is much more evident and traceable in matters of form than amid the fluctuations of content’ (Mannheim, op. cit., 1986, p. 55). But Mannheim really provides no good evidence for this view of the differential rates of change of form and contents in styles of thought. He is more concerned with identifying formal elements of thought styles than with defining their shifting contents. In addition toconstancy in artistic form, art historians frequently add conventions of symbolism as a general criterion for the identification of artistic styles (see M. Schapiro, ‘Style’, in Kroeber (ed.) Anthropology Today, Chicago, University of Chi- cago Press, 1953, p. 287; J. S. Ackerman, The sociology of styles of thought 49 ‘A Theory of Style’. Jounal of Aesthetic.s and Art, vol. 20, no. 3, 1962, p. 229; Gombrich, op. cit., 1966). Mannheim also mentions the presence of symbolism in styles of thought: ‘Most styles of thought have a hidden symbol behind them. The age of Enlightenment thought in terms of a straight line. This is gradually replaced by another symbol of current and counter-current’ (K. Mann- heim, ‘The History of the State as an Organism’, in Essays on Sociology and Social Psychology, London, Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1953, p. l76). This brief remark, however, is about the extent of his symbolic analysis of styles of thought (see S. Eisenstadt, ‘The Classical Sociology of Knowledge and Beyond’, Minerva vol. 25, nos. l/2,1987, p. 82).

10. Mannheim, op. cit., 1936, p. 244.

11. Mannheim, op. cit., 1986, pp. 3S7.

12. Mannheim, ibid., pp. 107-9. The evidence on which Mannheim constructed this style of thought consisted of his reading of the works of a relatively small number of conservative jurists, philosophers, and political pamphleteers. This case material was worked up into this stylistic typification of conservative thought in the absence of any objective schema, such as modern content analysis, but Mannheim was aided in this endeav- our by a large secondary literature on both these particular thinkers as well as the social and ideological analysis of conservative thought in this, and later, periods. Mannheim’s conception of the ‘nodal’ development of conservative thought in Germany is set out in a detailed diagram now available in the notes to Conservatism (see Mannheim, ibid., p. 210). Mannheim refers to some seventeen odd primary sources in Conservatism, although he extracts most of his stylistic material from a much smaller number —about six thinkers. He also cites the work of approximately 80 writers of secondary source material.

13. C. W. Mills, ‘The Professional Ideology of Social Pathologists’, American Journal of Sociology, vol.49, no. 2, 1943, pp. l 65-180.

14. Danziger pointedly contrasts the holistic approach of the sociology of knowledge, which ‘starts with whole patterns which are then analysed into constituent elements for purposes of identification’, with the more conventional approach of the attitude survey, which starts with ‘a collection of separate elements in order to arrive at the measure ofthe whole by their summation’. The way to identify contem porary styles of thought is to analyte ‘cognitive responses to un- structured material’ which may be gained through the use of projective essays, intensive interviews, or participant observation. Attitude inventories gained through survey research, on the other hand, place respondents in the role of passive selectors of prestructured categories and are, accordingly, less useful tools in gaining access to worldviews and styles of thought (K. Danziger, ‘Ideology and Utopia in South Africa: A Methodo- logical Contribution to the Sociology of Knowledge’, British Journal of Sociology vol. 14, no. 1, 1963,p. 63. Political psychologists who rely on archival and interview data in their studies of political attitudes and beliefs have yet to move very far from the ‘personality and politics’ approach to ideology. The categories they code for, such as degrees of ‘conceptual differentiation and integration’ among representatives of pos- itions in thecurrent political spectrum, fail to uncover the kinds of orientational dimensions that are needed to construct styles of thought (for a recent review of this literature, see P. E. Tetlock, ‘Structure and Function in Political Belief Systems’, in Pratkanis et al., (eds) Attitude Structure and Function, Hillsdale, NJ, Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 1989, pp. 1 29-1 5 1 ). An exception here is Lane’s study of the political ideologies of the ‘common man,’ Lane relied on intensive interviews to gain the empirical materials out of which he constructed his analysis of’cabalism’ as a contemporary style of thought (R. E. Lane, Political Ideology, New York, Free Press, 1962, pp. 1 16-8).

15. Danziger, op. cit., and ‘Self- Interpretations of Group Differences of Values (Natal, South Africa)’, Journal of Social Psychology, vol. 47, no. 2, 1958, pp. 317-25.

16. Danziger, op. cit., 1963, p. 68.

17. Ibid., pp.68-9.

18. K. Mannheim, ‘The Distinctive Character of Cultural-Sociological Knowledge’ in his Structures of Thinking, Lon-don, Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1982, p.91.

19. K. Mannheim, op. cit., 1971, pp. 1S7.

20. See M. Ermarth, Wilhelm Dilthey: The Critique of Historical Reason, (hicago, University of Chicago Press, 1978, p. 346.

21. Mannheim, op. cit., 1982, pp. 141- 288.

22. D. Kettler, V. Meja and N. Stehr, ‘Introduction: Karl Mannheim’s Early Writings on Cultural Sociology’, in Mannheim, Structures of Thinking, London, Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1982, p. 22. In Conservatism Mannheim’s ‘historical-dynamic structural complex’ encompasses the first two levels and the third ‘reflective’ level is that of styles of thought. There are difficulties in finding English terms that capture the nuances of the German terms Mannheim uses to characterize this ‘pre-rational’ cultural realm, and calling it a ‘historical-dynamic structural complex’ (Mannheim, op. cit., 1986, p. 75) does not seem especially illuminating. Mannheim tries to bring out the idea that different social groups have different ways of experiencing the world in a way that avoids the perils of realist hypostatizations of culture and nominalist dissolutions of culture into discrete, individual acts of intentionality. Describing this experiential domain as composed of a set of cultural ‘attitudes’ goes some way towards capturing the mixture of cognitive and affective dimensions of thought, but it fails to convey the sense that individuals are actively engaged with the world and that their thinking, although pre-theoretical, has a directedness about it that Mannheim variously describes as a ‘committedness’, ‘impulsion’, ‘design’, ‘purposiveness’ or ‘tension’. Probably the closest contempor- ary equivalent to Mannheim’s ‘historical-dynamic structural complex’ would be Raymond Williams’s concept of a ‘struc- ture of feeling’ (R. Williams, Politics and Letters, London, New Left Book, 1979, pp. 15S174); but there are also some affinities to the French tradition of studies of ‘mentalities’ (see J. Le (^off, ‘Mentalities: A New Field for Historians’, Social Science Information vol. 13, no. 1, pp.81-97; and P. Burke, ‘Strengths and Weaknesses of the History of Mentalities’, History of European Ideas, vol. 7, no.5, 1986, p. 448n).

23. The ways in which documentary interpretations are dependent on the analyst’s insight into the complex web of semiotic codes existing in most societies is comparable to the ways in which intuition enters into Spitzer’s celebrated ‘philo- logical circle’. As described by Hough, the philological circle relies on intuition at two points: ‘The initial observation is a spontaneous intuitive insight; it cannot be manufactured or enforced by a system …. And again, the passage from the observed peripheral fact to the central core is at first an intuitive leap, a hypothesis’. ((J. Hough, Style and Stylistics, London, Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1969,pp.61-2). Bauman provides a helpful overview of the differences in Mannheim’s treatment of Weltanschauung between his ‘On the Interpretation of Weltanschauung’ essay and Ideology and Utopia (Z. Bauman, Herrneneutic.s and Social Science, New York, (olumbia University Press,1978, pp.89 110). Much of the difficulty with Mann- heim’s early essay stems from his blurring of two different theories of concept formation, the ‘analytical’ theory of the Southwest German School of neo- Kantians and the ’emanationist’ theory of the Hegelians (on this distinction, see (J. Oakes, ‘Weber and the Southwest German School: The Genesis of the concept of the Historical Individual’, in Mommsen and Osterhammel (eds) Max Weber and hi.s (,’ontemporarie.s, London, Allen and Unwin, 1987, pp.43840). This same ambiguity plagued Alois Riegl’s conception of a Kunstwollen or ‘artistic will’ underlying specific artistic styles, on which Mannheim drew support for his conception of WeltarLschauung. As Zerner points out the concept of Kunstwollen was never satisfactorily clarified by Riegl, and his followers developed both a neo- Kantian and a Hegelian interpretation of Kurstwollen (H. Zerner, ‘Alois Riegl: Art, Value, and Historicism’, Daedalus (Winter), 1976, pp. 180, 188n). On the  neo-Kantian reading – advocated by Panofsky – Kunsstwellen was regarded ‘as a . . . . . content ot obJectlve Immanent meanmg- each work, by its style, invokes the whole of the culture from which it comes’ (Zerner, op. cit. p. 180; E. Panofsky, ‘The Con- cept of Artistic Volition’, Cntical Inquiry vol. 8, no. l, 1981, pp. l7-33). On the Hegelian reading, Kurstwolkn is viewed as a ‘central informing principle’ or ‘deep structure’ that controls the surface mani- festations of a style.

24. The term ‘Crundintention’ is translated as ‘fundamental design’ by Kettler et al. (D. Kettler, V. Meja and N. Stehr, ‘A Note on Text and Translation’ in Mannheim, op. cit., 1986, p. 250) for the follow- ing reason: ‘Mannheim’s key term for the central motif in the thinking of a given social tendency, Crundintention, is . . . ren- dered as “fundamental design”, so as to take advantage of the fact that “design” in English can refer to an objective pattern as well as to a subjective undertaking, as is also the case with the German expression in Mannheim’s usage’ – the earlier trans- lation of’ Das konservative Denken’ had rendered this term as ‘basic intention’. In one of his later publications Mannheim reaffirms this idea that worldviews have a sort of central core. Here, he argues that, ‘In a WeltarLschauung, just as in a religion, there are some basic experiences which carry more weight than others, and which are unforgettable in comparison with others that are merely passing sensations’ (K. Mannheim, Diagnosis of our Time, London, Kegan Palll, Trench, Trubner and Co.,1943, p- l34)-

25. Mannheim, op. cit., 1986, p. 88.

26. Ibid.,p.90.

27. Ibid., p. 91.

28. Ibid.,p. 96.

29. Danziger, op. cit., 1963, p. 64.

30. Ibid., p. 74.

31. The concept of worldviews, in fact, seems to have been effectively dissolved into the idea of ‘general attitudes’ in the course of its ‘Americanization’ (see R. Darnton, ‘Intellectual and Cultural His- tory’, in Kammen (ed.) The Past Before Us, Ithaca, Cornell University Press, 1980, p.346).

32. Mills, op. cit., p. 180.

33. Kettler, et al. op. cit., 1986, pp. 245.

34. Mannheim, op. cit., 1986, pp.39 – 43.

35. See N. Abercrombie and B. Longhurst, ‘Interpreting Mannheim.’ Theory, Culture and Society, vol. 2, no. l, 1983, pp. 5-15, and B. Longhurst, Karl Mannheim and the Contemporary Sociology of Knowledge, New York, St. Martin’s,1988.

36. Mannheim, op. cit., 1936, p. 248.

37. Mannheim, op. cit., 1982, pp. 9S7.

38. Mannheim, op. cit., 1986, p. 101.

39. The modern history of intellectuals begins with the breakdown during the Renaissance of the ecclesiastical monopoly over thought held by the ‘priestly caste’ during the Middle Ages. Intellectuals who previously would have had to become part of the clergy were now free to develop a range of alternative ideas. As a result of their new need for non-ecclesiastical bases of support they began to align themselves with various social groups that had formerly lacked intellectual representation. Such a situation engendered, at first, ‘atomistic competition’ between intellectuals associated with diverse groups as ‘the intellectuals adopted in an ever more pronounced fashion the various modes of thought and experience available in society and played them off against each other’ (Mannheim, op. cit., 1936, p. 11). Later on, as the heterogeneity of social groups began to decrease under the pressure of capitalist development and industrialization, a polarization of thought into the familiar ideological ‘attitudes’ of conservatism, liberalism, socialism developed through a ‘process of incorporation and modifi- cation’ of what had previously been fragmented currents of thought (K. Mannheim, ‘Competition as a Cultural Phenomenon’, pp. 223-61 in Wolff (ed.), op. cit., 1971, p.241, and see K. Mann- heim, ‘the Problem of the Intelligentsia: An Enquiry into its Past And Present Role’ in Mannheim Essays on the Sociology of Culture, London, Routledge and Kegan Paul,1956, p. l l 7.

40. Mannheim, op. cit., 1936, p.10; see also Mannheim, op. cit., 1956, p. l l 7.

41. Mannheim, op. cit., 1956, p.104.

42. Mannheim, op. cit., 1982, pp.26S 7.

43. Mannheim, ‘The Problem of  Generations’ in Essays on thc Sociology of Knowledge, New York, Oxford University Press,1952, p. 308. 44. Mannheim, op. cit., 1986, p. 36.

45. Mannheim, op. cit., 1971, pp. 242- 57, see also ibid., ‘The Problem of a Sociology of Knowledge’, pp. 69, 72, 80, 106).

46. Mannheim, op. cit., 1953, p. 172.

47. Mannheim, op. cit., 1971 b, p. 257.

48. Mannheim, op. cit., 1986, pp. 111- 2. Mannheim, of course, was especially interested in syntheses of styles of thought because of their potential political role in the resolution of crisis periods in history, and, most especially, in the contemporary crises affecting Weimar Germany.

49. Mannheim, however, only dealt with the first two ‘intellectual positions’ breaking offjust as he came to Hegel.

50. Danziger, op. cit., 1963, p. 64.

51. Ibid., p. 68.

52. See H. White, Metahistory: The Historical Imagination in Nineteenth-Century Europe, Baltimore, Johns Hopkins University Press,1973, p. 22n; H. R. Feather, ‘Conservative Thought and the English Bourgeoisie’, Sociological Review, vol. 32, no. 2, 1984, pp.261-84; and D. Shalin, ‘Romanticism and the Rise of Sociological Hermeneutics’, Social Research, vol. 53, no. l,1986, pp.834.

53. A. Child, ‘The Problem of Imputation in the Sociology of Knowledge’, Ethics, vol. 51 January 1941, p.206, and see Bauman, op. cit., and W. Carlsnaess, The Concept of Ideology and Political Analynis, Westport, CT, (^reenwood Press, 1981, p. 202.

54. Examples of this use of Mannheim’s work can be found in studies of English and Russian conservatism (see H. R. Feather, op. cit., and A. Walicki, ‘Personality and society in the Ideology of Russian Salvophiles: A Study in the Sociology of Knowledge’, California Slavic Studies, vol. 3, 1963, pp. 1-20). Berdahl and Ludz have recently reanalyzed Mannheim’s own subject matter of German conservatism in the early nineteenth century (R. M. Berdahl, ‘The Stande and the Origins of Conservatism in Prussia’, Eighteenth-Centuty Studies, vol. 6, no. 3, 1973, pp. 298-321 and ‘Prussian Aristocracy and Conservative Ideology: A Methodological Examination’, Social Science Information, vol. 15, nos.4/5, 1976, pp. 58>99; P. C. Ludz, ‘Ideology, Intellectuals, and Organization: The Question of Their Interrelation in Early 19th- century Society’, Social Research vol. 44, no. 2,1977, pp. 261>307. 55. Mannheim, op. cit., 1971, p. l 4.

56. Taylor expresses this point as follows, ‘Already to be a living agent is to experience one’s situation in terms of certain meanings; and this in a sense can be thought of as a sort of proto- “interpretation.” This is in turn interpreted and shaped by the language in which the agent lives these meanings’ (C. Taylor, ‘Interpretation and the Sciences of Man’ in Rabinow and Sullivan (eds) Interpretive Social Science, Berkeley, University of California Press,1979, p. 38). The closest Mannheim comes to this sort of formulation is when he argues that ‘pre-scientific everyday experience is shot through with bits of theory. The life of mind is a constant flux, oscillating between the theoretical and the a-theoretical pole, in- volving a constant intermingling and rearranging of the most disparate cat- egories of many different origins’ (Mannheim, op. cit., 1971, p. l5). It is not clear, however, whether Mannheim is claiming that the bits of theory give ‘form’ to everyday experience even though this is not a completely ‘logical’ form, or whether the theoretical bits are something ‘extra’ mixed in with everyday experience which has its own ‘attitude of form-perception.’

57. See K. J. Kiecolt, ‘Recent Develop- ments in Attitudes and Social Structure’, Annual Review of Sociology vol. 14, 1988, pp. 381403, and D. Bar-Tal and A. W. Kruglanski (eds), The Social Psychology of Knowledge, Cambridge, Cambridge Uni- versity Press,1988.

58. Prior to recording the adventures of the ‘great chain of being’ Arthur Lovejoy ventured a list of some of the ‘prin- ciple types’ of persistent elementary ideas that the historian of ideas needs to excavate: First, of the ‘implicit or incompletely explicit a.ssumptions, or more or less uncon- scious mental habits’ informing an intellec- tual work, one sort is the ‘disposition to think in terms of certain categories or of particular types of imagery’; related to The sociology of styles of thought 53 this is the propensity to employ a certain ‘turn of reasoning, trick of logic, [or] methodological assumption’, Lovejoy calls these ‘dialectical motives’, examples being the ‘nominalistic and organismic motives’; the ‘susceptibilities to diverse kinds of metaphysical pathos’ is Lovejoy’s third such principle and it includes such kinds as the ‘pathos to sheer obscurity’, the ‘pathos of the esoteric’, the ‘eternalistic pathos’, the ‘monistic or pantheistic pathos’, and the ‘voluntaristic pathos’; Lovejoy’s fourth enunciated principle is that of ‘philosophical semantics – a study of the sacred words and phrases of a movement’ and the ambiguities they create for various doctrines; finally, a ‘single specific proposition or ‘principle’ expressly enunciated’ such as the great chain of being concludes Lovejoy’s prin- ciple types (A. O. Lovejoy, The Great Chain of Being, Harvard: Harvard University Press, 1936, p. 7). Richard McKeon’s ‘historical seman- tics’ was similarly conceived as the disclos- ure ‘of the persistence, recurrence, and transformation of problems under dif- ferent verbal forms’ (R. McKeon, Freedom and History: The Semantics of Philosophical Controversies and Ideological Conflicts, New York, Noonday Press, 1952, p. 29). Designed as a ‘first step’ in ‘any effort to place thought and philosophy in the cir- cumstances that condition its forms and development’, McKeon’s work remained largely at the level of elaborating a taxonomy of methods and principles for such studies.

59. See J. G. A. Pocock, ‘Texts as Events: Reflections on the History of Political Thought’ in Sharpe and Zwicker (eds), Politics of Discourse, Berkeley, Uni- versity of California Press, 1987, pp.25-6.

60. J. E. Toews, ‘Intellectual History After the Linguistic Turn: The Auton- omy of Meaning and the Irreducibility of Experience’, American Historical Review, vol. 92, no. 4, 1987, p. 892.

61. Skinner, for example, argues that there is a specific ‘scale of values and style of thought’ in social and political philos- ophy which the term ‘Renaissance’ can aptly designate (Q. Skinner, ‘Political Philosophy’ in Schmitt, Kessler and Skinner (eds), The Cambridge History of Renaissance Philosophy, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1988, p.389 n.2). 62. H. Speier, ‘Review of Ideology and Utopia’, American Journal of Sociology vol. 43, no. 1, 1937, p. 163, and op. cit., 1989, p. 44.

63. (arlsnaess, op. cit., p. 205. 64. The explanation of the development of Marxian socialism as a style of thought would either have to invoke the presence of altruistic intellectuals working on behalf of the working class, or of intellectuals as a ‘new class’ whose support of the working class is simply a case of delaying gratification until they are in power. Alternatively, one could see socialism as the worldview of the comparatively well-off artisan class (see A. W. Gouldner, Against Fragmentation: The origins of Marxism and the Sociology of Intellectuals, New York, Oxford University Press, 1985). 65. See E. Gombrich, In Search of Cultural History, Oxford, Clarendon Press,1969. 66. Mannheim, op. cit., 1982, p. 89.

67. E. Gombrich, ‘Style’, International Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences, vol. 15, 1968, pp.352-361, and op. cit., 1969; and also K. R. Popper, The Poverty of Historicism, London, Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1957.

68. Gombrich, op. cit., 1968, p. 358.

69. See M. Schapiro, ‘The New Viennese School’, Art Bulletin, vol. 18, no. 2, 1936, pp. 258-266.

70. As for the advisability of making inferences from one cultural manifes- tation to.some (but not all) others, which Gombrich warns against, it is hard to believe that this is something that advo- cates of bold conjectures and refutations would find fault with, and indeed it is a practice that Gombrich himself can be accused of (see A. W. Levi, ‘Kunstgeschichte als Geistesgeschichte: The Lessons of Panofsky’, Journal of Aesthetic Education vol. 20, no.4,1986, p. 82).

71. Mannheim, op. cit., 1986, pp.95-6, and op. cit., 1952, pp. 285 and 313-5.

72. See R. Wohl, The Generation of 1914, Cambridge, Harvard University Press, 1979, p. 75.

73. Some of the sharpest insights in Mannheim’s analysis of styles of thought concern the competition between opposing styles and the modifications that are made to ideas that migrate from one style to another. The processes of recombination and selection involved here sug- gest that Mannheim’s analysis of styles of thought might profitably be recast in terms of an evolutionary-ecological model of stylistic change. At the very least, the exercise of restating Mannheim’s ideas in terms of such an abstract model would highlight any conflict between the populationist assumptions of evolutionary models and the essentialist, Hegelian assumptions that Mannheim may have carried over from thinking about styles of thought as analogous to artistic styles. The pertinent evolutionary model of stylistic change would be Darwinian rather than Spencerian in nature. The central features of such a model are the processes of variation, selection, and retention and the kinds of entities that these processes affect; no assumptions about trends toward increasing stylistic ceptual change, or any other proxies for the idea of progress are a part of such a model. What would need to be shown is that a population of styles (or substyles) can be identified, that a spatiotemporal continuity of some sort connects up successive replications of these styles into a stylistic lineage, and that an ecology of selection agents exists with differential effects on the replication rates of styles of thought. Parallel proposals have been made to explain stylistic change in art along evolutionary lines (see T. Munro, Evolution in the Arts, Cleveland, Cleveland Museum of Art, 1963; J. S. Ackerman, ‘Art and Evolution’ in Kepes (ed.) The Nature and Art of Motion, New York, George Braziller, 1965, pp. 32-40 and ‘The Demise of the Avant Garde: Notes on the Sociology of Recent American Art’, Comparative Studies in Society anzl History, vol. 1 1, no. 4, 1969, pp. 371-84) and an earlier generation of Marxist historians (notably Antal and Hauser) specialized in examining the social ecology of artistic styles.

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