Unlike most histories of ideas, "Prophets and Patrons" portrays the institutional developments that encouraged, discouraged, and rechanneled different styles of research. To understand these developments, a sociological analysis of the French university system is presented. At its center are the patrons (generally Sorbonne professors) who served as informal linkages for the entire system. Around them developed clusters of researchers and teachers throughout France. The workings of this system of relations, analyzed here for the first time, are crucial to understanding the French university.
The university is also immersed in the political and ideological currents of the Latin Quarter. Thus Clark's investigation of conflicting elements of French culture and social structure helps illuminate his analysis of the university. This study will be invaluable to social scientists, intellectual historians, and students of French culture and comparative education.
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