Thursday, October 15, 2009

Jeff Isaac in the Chronicle on political science

Jeffrey Isaac takes to the pages of the Chronicle to discuss political science, the NSF, and the Coburn amendment. Jeff has recently assumed the editorship of Perspectives on Politics, a journal in part meant to bridge the gap between peer-reviewed social science and public accessibility and relevance, and he urges the discipline to take the occasion of the NSF fight to reflect on that gap-- not to so emphasize our science-ness as to lose sight of our public-ness.

3 comments:

Jason Swadley said...

Thanks for the article.

It strikes me that political theory has the potential to be among the most "publicly accessible" parts of the discipline, given our qualitative approach and our interest in normative debates in which politically active citizens already engage.

Yet to anyone on the street, theory seems the most foreign and indecipherable part of the discipline. Even if folks have a vague understanding of what political science is, they rarely (in my experience anyway) understand what "political theory" does, or why they should care.

(Incidentally, average folks are more likely to understand "political philosophy," since its name tips them off to the subject/method, which is how I explain myself to curious friends and relatives).

I suppose, then, that our relevance is getting lost somewhere in the product and the perception. It's troubling that theorists and other political scientists should have to remind Congress that we are, or wish to be, the science of the legislator.

X. Trapnel said...

I like the piece, and I really like where PoP has been going, but there's something bitterly amusing about a cry for a more public political science coming from (1) the editor of a journal tasked with "aims to promote a genuine political-science public sphere" that is nevertheless locked behind a paywall and hence invisible to 98% of the existing public-sphere; and (2) which is itself published behind a paywall.

X. Trapnel said...

I love how, *because of a paywall*, I couldn't see that it had actually posted my comment *about the awfulness of paywalls* until I did it a third time through a proxy.

*Headdesk*