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Someone who participates in critical thinking, investigation, and reflection to improve debates of academic topics is referred to as a "intellectual." In many cases, this entails releasing material intended for the broader public that provides more depth to topics that are important to the public.

Furthermore, it may include actively addressing social concerns and offering answers to the normative difficulties that society faces, thus establishing oneself as a public figure of intelligence (see subsection). When a public intellectual participates in politics, either to defend a specific thesis or to condemn injustice, he/she creates or mediates culture, which is typically accomplished by either rejecting or creating or expanding an ideology, as well as by defending a set of values.