Mannheim Karl(1887-1947) Hungarian-born sociologist who was an enforced emigrant to England in 1933, and whose most important contributions to sociology were in the SOCIOLOGY OF KNOWLEDGE and in his writings on political issues of the day including education and planning. In his main work Ideology and Utopia (1929) he systematizes distinctions between IDEOLOGY and UTOPIA as different kinds of belief system, the first performing the function of justification and preservation of a system, the second oriented to its change. More generally, in his SOCIOLOGY OF KNOWLEDGE, he argued that the main forms of knowledge are conditioned in various ways by the needs of social groups, although, contrary to MARX, not simply by class interests. He suggested that one way in which knowledge might escape RELATIVISM was if INTELLECTUALS adopted a ‘free-floating’ or non-aligned position. See also INTELLIGENTSIA.
Collins Dictionary of Sociology, 3rd ed. © HarperCollins Publishers 2000