Recently I discovered (actually it was Funny Bird) a neat software Publish or Perish. It is the ultimate toy for the narcissistic or anxious 21st century academic. The program fetches data from Google Scholar and calculates impact statistics for authors and journals. It doesn’t work that well because Scholar sometimes gets dates confused, it takes as separate works items that differ only in minor edits in author name or publisher, and other such like.
I started by doing a top ten of the history of economics, but then found the exercise too parochial and self-serving. So instead I went ambitious and decided to find the most influential social theorist of the late 20th, early 21th century. My metric was the h-index. (To get the h one ranks all of a scholar’s papers by how many times it was cited. A scholar’s h is 4, if her/his top 4 papers are cited at least 4 times, the scholar’s h is 8 if his/hers top 8 most cited papers have at least 8 cites each.)
The kids Bernard Henri Levy and Slavoj Zizek go at 14 and 55 respectively. C Wright Mills gets a 25, and EP Thompson a 36. Jean-François Lyotard does better at 44, and F. von Hayek better still at 63. The father of structuralism, Claude Levi-Strauss is as high as 76, and the great man of science studies Bruno Latour manages an 80. Jacques Derrida and Anthony Giddens, the frenchman and the englishman are head to head at 100 and 101.
But the real business is down to Michel Foucault, Pierre Bourdieu, Jurgen Habermas and Noam Chomsky. Chomsky is h 116, he is a level 30 warrior mage in World of Warcraft. Habermas makes it third place at 124. Michel or Pierre. A french final, and the winner is … (you have seen the picture next to the post!)… Pierre Bourdieu (168 to 162, cricket score numbers).
I was routing for Michel…
P.S. Incidentally Paul Samuelson is h=75, and JM Keynes goes only for h=39.