Monday, 27 September 2010

The irrelevance of modern political science

Steven F. Hayward writes on the above topic in The American. He writes about the recent meeting of the American Political Science Association (APSA) in Washington,
Most conventions in Washington are able to attract at least a bit of the city's star power. Obscure trade associations get House members. Larger groups get senators, or maybe, if they're lucky, a member of the White House's senior staff . . . There were no political luminaries in attendance at the American Political Science Association's convention last week, however. The fact that the country's brightest political scholars had all gathered at the Marriott Wardman Park barely seemed to register on the rest of the town. Worse, you got the feeling that the political scientists knew it. One of the conference's highlights, according to its Web site, was a panel titled "Is Political Science Relevant?”
Later he continues,
Ask yourself this question: Among policy makers in Washington, are you more likely to find academic economic journals in their offices, or academic political science journals? Why do economists not face the same kind of worry about their "relevance," even though their mathematical approaches to the subject matter can be even more esoteric and forbidding?
As my late friend Tom Silver once wrote: "Imagine yourself marooned on a desert island with only ten books to read, but in this case ten books not of your choosing. Suppose them all to be books written by behavior political scientists during the past twenty years. Question: Do you think that you would die first of boredom, or of self-inflicted wounds?"
An interesting question. But I make no comment.

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