Giddens trumps Marx but French thinkers triumph

March 26, 2009

Their books may not challenge J.K. Rowling's in the bestseller lists, but what they lack in appeal as a holiday read, they more than make up for in terms of scholarly interest.

A list published today by Times Higher Education reveals the most-cited academic authors of books in the humanities, based on an analysis of research in the field in 2007.

As one of the world's pre-eminent sociologists, Anthony Giddens, the Labour peer and former director of the London School of Economics, will be used to academic accolades.

But even he may be pleased to hear that his books are cited more often than those of iconic thinkers such as Sigmund Freud and Karl Marx.

Lord Giddens, now emeritus professor at LSE and a life fellow at King's College, Cambridge, is the fifth most-referenced author of books in the humanities, according to the list produced by scientific data analysts Thomson Reuters.

The only living scholar ranked higher is Albert Bandura, the Canadian psychologist and pioneer of social learning theory at Stanford University.

Topping the list are three Frenchmen. In first place is Michel Foucault, the late historian and philosopher. He is best known for his studies of power and sexuality and his influence is felt across the humanities and social sciences.

He is followed by Pierre Bourdieu, the sociologist, who died in 2002, and Jacques Derrida, the philosopher and founding father of deconstructionism.

Freud enters the list in 11th place. The American linguist and philosopher Noam Chomsky, who is based at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and whose political books have a broader readership than some of his peers in the list, is 15th.

As well as Lord Giddens, another Briton to make the top 20 is David Harvey, a University of Cambridge-educated geographer and social theorist now based at the City University of New York, where he is professor of anthropology.

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