Taking the lead from Peter Walsh’s laudible work on academic celebrity, here’s some lessons from the career of Tony Giddens which I inferred from this excellent review article Peter pointed me towards, coupled with my own reading of Giddens, who was the major protagonist for my PhD:
- Choose your targets well. Take early aim at the established masters. Draw upon the established canon but re-articulate it in a idiosyncratic way.
- Demonstrate a mastery of the classics that is cashed out in terms of their translation into contemporary concerns.
- Tie your interests, however general they may be, into the most pressing topics of the day.
- Cultivate both your critics and yours fans: engage often and generously.
- Publish lots, ideally in a way that combines repetition with reliable progress into new intellectual domains.
- Write texts books. Seriously.
- Own the company that publishes your books. Or, if you can’t, at least exercise substantial influence over the channels through which you disseminate your work.
- (Re)define the canon in a way easily taken up by others.
- Edit the major journal(s) outside of your professional stronghold
- Seek prestigious institutional positions and deploy them to maximal effect in disconnected arenas.
Interestingly, Clegg writes in 1992 that “few have sought to challenge with a competitive strategy based on equivalent market penetration”. But since then many have. Stiegler, Bauman and Zizek, to name but three, have all achieved a rate of publication far beyond that which led Clegg to be so fascinated with Giddens. However, at least the latter two have self-plagiarised extensively, perhaps pointing to Giddens as having pushed the productivity bar to the maximum extent possible before one is forced to start copying & pasting from one book to the next in order to keep the profitable publications flowing.