The paper, originally published in 1992, examines how cultural studies can continue to be a counter-hegemonic critical and political cultural practice in spite of its increasing institutionalization in official institutions. How can cultural studies continue to maintain its critical vein, its challenge to institutionalized power, its strong connections with marginality from within the Academy. One of the crucial point that Hall makes is his final distinction between academic and intellectual work. While they may overlap at times, they are crucially different as intellectual work "does not try to inscribe itself in the overarching metanarrative of achieved knowledges, within the institutions" (286).
Hall also debates the relationship of cultural studies to Marxism. He challenges simple notions that considered cultural studies progressively slipping into Marxism. Yet, he recognizes that his definition of intellectual work is indebted to the Italian Marxist theorist Antonio Gramsci. Practitioners of cultural studies can be defined using Gramsci's idea of the "organic intellectual". Organic intellectuals, like cultural studies, work on two fronts. On the one hand, they cultivate their knowledge, which has to be effective and deep. On the other hand, knowledge cannot be an end in itself as organic intellectuals must make it accessible to those people who are not part of the intellectual class. The same is true about cultural studies whose theoretical legacy is to use theory to stimulate debates that can have political and social impacts.
Page reference to Hall's essay in Cultural Studies, ed. Lawrence Grossberg, Cary Nelson, Paula Treichler. New York and London: Routledge, 1992, pp. 277-294