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Shaky Foundations

Shaky Foundations: The Politics-Patronage-Social Science Nexus in Cold War America

Copyright Date: 2013
Published by: Rutgers University Press
Pages: 266
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  • Book Info
    Shaky Foundations
    Book Description:

    Numerous popular and scholarly accounts have exposed the deep impact of patrons on the production of scientific knowledge and its applications.Shaky Foundationsprovides the first extensive examination of a new patronage system for the social sciences that emerged in the early Cold War years and took more definite shape during the 1950s and early 1960s, a period of enormous expansion in American social science.

    By focusing on the military, the Ford Foundation, and the National Science Foundation, Mark Solovey shows how this patronage system presented social scientists and other interested parties, including natural scientists and politicians, with new opportunities to work out the scientific identity, social implications, and public policy uses of academic social research. Solovey also examines significant criticisms of the new patronage system, which contributed to widespread efforts to rethink and reshape the politics-patronage-social science nexus starting in the mid-1960s.

    Based on extensive archival research,Shaky Foundationsaddresses fundamental questions about the intellectual foundations of the social sciences, their relationships with the natural sciences and the humanities, and the political and ideological import of academic social inquiry.

    eISBN: 978-0-8135-5466-2
    Subjects: History of Science & Technology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
    (pp. ix-xii)
  4. INTRODUCTION: Social Scientists and Their Patrons in a Remarkable Era
    (pp. 1-19)

    From the mid-1940s to the mid-1960s, the social and psychological sciences in the United States experienced dramatic growth. In 1947, the American Psychological Association, the major professional society for psychologists at the time, had 4,661 members. Within a decade the APA had 15,545 members, and by 1967 25,800 members. The American Sociological Association grew fivefold during this time period, from 2,218 to 11,000 members.¹ Fortified by wider developments in American higher education and science, vigorous expansion also marked the trajectories of university departments, research centers, graduate programs, academic journals, and scholarly publications in the social sciences. Numerous new areas of...

  5. 1 Social Science on the Endless (and End-less?) Frontier: The Postwar NSF Debate
    (pp. 20-55)

    World War Two marked a major turning point in the relationship between the federal government and American science. During the war, annual federal support for scientific research soared, from $48 million to $500 million, from 18 percent to 83 percent of the nation’s total science funding. Even before the war’s end American leaders commonly believed that, henceforth, national defense and public welfare would depend on a greatly expanded national commitment to science. The success of the Manhattan Project and the role of atomic weapons in bringing about a sudden Japanese surrender helped solidify public support for a robust postwar scientific...

  6. 2 Defense and Offense in the Military Science Establishment: Toward a Technology of Human Behavior
    (pp. 56-102)

    By the end of World War Two, prominent figures from many sectors of society recognized that the future of American science would depend greatly on the growth and character of the postwar federal science establishment. And by midcentury what seemed like a likely scenario at the war’s end had become a powerful reality: “The mighty edifice of government science dominated the scene in the middle of the twentieth-century as a Gothic cathedral dominated a thirteenth-century landscape,” wrote the historian of science A. Hunter Dupree.¹ Whereas federal research and development (R&D) expenditures had amounted to less that $100 million in 1940,...

  7. 3 Vision, Analysis, or Subversion? The Rocky Story of the Behavioral Sciences at the Ford Foundation
    (pp. 103-147)

    As postwar federal funding for social science became a hotly contested issue, leaders at the large private foundations speculated that philanthropic support could make a vital contribution. Writing in 1949, former Rockefeller Foundation vice president Edwin R. Embree explained that many subjects that foundations had focused on for nearly half a century, including the natural sciences and medicine, were already well established and had extensive public patronage. Thus the foundations needed to pursue other opportunities, including what Embree called the “heroic development of the human studies.” Equally important, he argued that private support provided a crucial alternative or complement to...

  8. 4 Cultivating Hard-Core Social Research at the NSF: Protective Coloration and Official Negroes
    (pp. 148-187)

    Although the initial legislative bills from the mid-1940s had anticipated that the new federal science agency would become the comprehensive centerpiece of the postwar federal research system, the lengthy debate over competing proposals gave the military and other patrons the opportunity to establish their own substantial programs. When the NSF began operating in the early 1950s, the agency claimed a comprehensive interest in supporting basic science. But because of its comparatively puny budgets, the agency could hardly fulfill the earlier expectations. Still, the NSF assumed a small but increasingly important role in the nation’s commitment to basic or fundamental research,...

    (pp. 188-204)

    In this book I have argued that the military, the Ford Foundation, and the NSF became major players in a significantly transformed and largely new extra-university funding system for the social sciences in Cold War America. The development of these important patrons presented social scientists and other interested parties, including natural scientists and politicians, with critical opportunities to work out the nature and uses of social science research and expertise in the nuclear age. In addressing these basic issues, patrons together with their scholarly collaborators became strong proponents of a scientistic strategy for advancing the social sciences and a closely...

  10. NOTES
    (pp. 205-242)
  11. INDEX
    (pp. 243-253)
  12. Back Matter
    (pp. 254-254)