Karl Mannheim’s Ideology and Utopia and the public role of sociology

Hammersley, Martyn (2022). Karl Mannheim’s Ideology and Utopia and the public role of sociology. Journal of Classical Sociology, 22(2) pp. 176–198.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177/1468795X20986382


Karl Mannheim’s work, particularly his book Ideology and Utopia, has considerable relevance to current concerns about the public role of sociology. However, this is not widely recognised, and key aspects of his thought have frequently been neglected or disparaged. In this article the background to Mannheim’s work is outlined, and a summary provided of the central argument of Ideology and Utopia, comparing this with the positions taken by Max Weber and Georg Lukács, both of whom were important influences on Mannheim. The major criticisms of, and problems with, Mannheim’s argument are then addressed. While he was by no means completely successful in putting forward a convincing conception of sociology’s public role, there is a great deal to be learned from his work, and from the manner in which he pursued it.

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