Skip to Main Content
Have library access? Log in through your library
Modern Political Science

Modern Political Science: Anglo-American Exchanges since 1880

Robert Adcock
Mark Bevir
Shannon C. Stimson
Copyright Date: 2007
Pages: 368
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt7sf47
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    Modern Political Science
    Book Description:

    Since emerging in the late nineteenth century, political science has undergone a radical shift--from constructing grand narratives of national political development to producing empirical studies of individual political phenomena. What caused this change?Modern Political Science--the first authoritative history of Anglophone political science--argues that the field's transformation shouldn't be mistaken for a case of simple progress and increasing scientific precision. On the contrary, the book shows that political science is deeply historically contingent, driven both by its own inherited ideas and by the wider history in which it has developed.

    Focusing on the United States and the United Kingdom, and the exchanges between them,Modern Political Sciencecontains contributions from leading political scientists, political theorists, and intellectual historians from both sides of the Atlantic. Together they provide a compelling account of the development of political science, its relation to other disciplines, the problems it currently faces, and possible solutions to these problems.

    Building on a growing interest in the history of political science,Modern Political Scienceis necessary reading for anyone who wants to understand how political science got to be what it is today--or what it might look like tomorrow.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-2776-3
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

Export Selected Citations Export to NoodleTools Export to RefWorks Export to EasyBib Export a RIS file (For EndNote, ProCite, Reference Manager, Zotero, Mendeley...) Export a Text file (For BibTex)
  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. List of Contributors
    (pp. ix-ix)
  5. One A History of Political Science: How? What? Why?
    (pp. 1-17)
    ROBERT ADCOCK, MARK BEVIR and SHANNON C. STIMSON

    British and American political scientists recently have shown an unusual degree of interest in the history of their discipline. The dawn of a new millennium prompted leading figures in the British study of politics to reflect on their past and to situate themselves in relation to it.¹ In America, work on the history of political science has appeared off and on for some time, but the last decade has witnessed a positive flourishing of such studies. These studies include some in which luminaries in the discipline look back on their teachers and predecessors.² They also include a distinct subgenre of...

  6. Two Anglo-American Political Science, 1880–1920
    (pp. 18-36)
    DOROTHY ROSS

    The period from roughly the 1880s to World War I—spanning the late Victorian and Edwardian era in Britain and the Gilded Age and Progressive period in the United States—is the period during which the academic discipline of political science formed in the two countries, and in many respects, it formed along similar lines. Considerable Anglo-American contact, and even more frequent reference, occurred among these scholars, and for good reasons. In both countries, liberal academic elites worked to carve out an authoritative place in the university and to salvage their political heritage in the face of new challenges posed...

  7. Three The Origins of a Historical Political Science in Late Victorian and Edwardian Britain
    (pp. 37-65)
    SANDRA M. DEN OTTER

    “It were far better, as things now stand, to be charged with heresy, or even to be found guilty of petty larceny, than to fall under the suspicion of lacking historical-mindedness, or of questioning the universal validity of the historical method,” grumbled the jurist A. V. Dicey in 1885. Paradoxically and despite his own frequently expressed disdain for what he regarded to be an antiquarian pursuit, Dicey is best remembered for his own “historical mindedness.” The immense popularity of hisLaw and Opinion in the Nineteenth Centuryattested to at least a contemporary conviction that Dicey had captured the mind...

  8. Four The Historical Science(s) of Politics: The Principles, Association, and Fate of an American Discipline
    (pp. 66-96)
    JAMES FARR

    Political scientists at the turn of the last century conceived their science as continuous with history, so much so that it deserves remembrance asthe historical science of politics. Its object of inquiry was the state; its method was comparative, as well as historical; and its principles were offered as scientific bona fides. As an American science, it presented the United States as a modern state, in its history, in comparison to other states, and set upon distinct principles. Therein lay a sense of identity and unity for self-identified political scientists, but also an invitation to debate what was meant...

  9. Five The Emergence of an Embryonic Discipline: British Politics without Political Scientists
    (pp. 97-117)
    DENNIS KAVANAGH

    The interwar years are a key stage in the development of the academic study of politics in Britain. The main figures or Founding Fathers—Cole, Barker, Laski, Jennings, Muir, Wallas, and Finer—were drawn, narrowly, from Oxford, Cambridge, and the London School of Economics. From the 1950s, as the study of politics in Britain acquired the marks of a discipline, in the form of a professional association and a journal, the writings of the above fell into neglect. Yet the Fathers have commanded interest for their lives as well as their work; five of the seven have been the subject...

  10. Six A Tale of Two Charlies: Political Science, History, and Civic Reform, 1890–1940
    (pp. 118-136)
    MARK C. SMITH

    As the period of developmental historicism and evolutionary positivism faded in the late nineteenth century, political scientists began to develop an alternative approach, one based on rigorous accumulation of facts coupled with the modernist view of science and reality as parts of a probabilistic world and of various new ways of ascertaining this reality. For the purpose of this volume, I am referring to this approach as modernist empiricism. Yet just as Dorothy Ross demonstrates in her chapter of this volume that historicists and evolutionary positivists differed strongly on such key issues as the germ theory of democracy and exceptionalism,...

  11. Seven Making Democracy Safe for the World: Political Science between the Wars
    (pp. 137-157)
    JOHN G. GUNNELL

    Despite the now quite extensive literature devoted to the study of the development of American political science, there is still an inadequate grasp of certain important periods in the history of the discipline and of how they are related to the contemporary character of the field. One such period is that between the two World Wars, and particularly the 1920s, when much of the basic contemporary structure of the discipline, as well its dominant and most persistent visions of both democracy and science, took form. The so-called behavioral revolution at midcentury was more a reaffirmation of this transformation than a...

  12. Eight Birth of a Discipline: Interpreting British Political Studies in the 1950s and 1960s
    (pp. 158-179)
    MICHAEL KENNY

    There are a number of signs in recent scholarship that practitioners of political studies in Britain are developing a more reflexive and curious sensibility toward the historical development of their discipline.¹ The appearance in 1999 of a volume, published under the auspices of the British Academy, devoted to a reexamination of the discipline and its various subfields, is one indication of a possible trend.² The majority of these essays focus upon specific subfields within the discipline. Those that consider its overall development tend to fall back upon a familiar image of the 1950s and 1960s, presenting it as an infancy,...

  13. Nine Interpreting Behavioralism
    (pp. 180-208)
    ROBERT ADCOCK

    The behavioral movement of the 1950s and 1960s is central to the way most contemporary American political scientists envision their discipline’s past.¹ While far from agreeing on a single interpretation of the movement’s character or merit, political scientists share a common belief that it wrought intellectual transformation on a large scale. Indeed, the sense of scale is such as to make periodization into prebehavioral, behavioral, and postbehavioral eras the common framework within which political scientists envision their predecessors. For radical historicists, however, any such framework—even, perhaps especially, one so prevalent as to constitute disciplinary common sense—is a selective...

  14. Ten The Remaking of Political Theory
    (pp. 209-233)
    ROBERT ADCOCK and MARK BEVIR

    Political theory, we are often told, lay moribund in the 1950s. Among the biggest clichés in the history of contemporary political theory are Isaiah Berlin’s fears about the continuing life of political theory and Peter Laslett’s famous declaration that “for the time being anyway political philosophy is dead.”¹ Today these obituaries for political theory are invoked most often as a prelude to a celebration of its rebirth. We are told that almost before the ink had dried on Berlin’s and Laslett’s manuscripts, John Rawls, Quentin Skinner, or Sheldon Wolin had begun the intellectual labors that have since led to a...

  15. Eleven Traditions of Political Science in Contemporary Britain
    (pp. 234-258)
    MARK BEVIR and R. A. W. RHODES

    British political science has a dominant self-image based on a narrative of professionalization. This narrative tells how a Whig inheritance evolved into a more mature, largely autonomous, professional, and suitably cautious discipline. Perhaps paradoxically it also contrasts the restraint of the British discipline with the excessive scientism and professionalism of its American counterpart. It concludes with a portrait of a professional discipline producing what we might think of as modernist empiricist knowledge, that is, knowledge reached through atomization, comparison, classification, and even quantification.

    Jack Hayward provides one example of the narrative of professionalization. He identifies three stages in the development...

  16. Twelve Historicizing the New Institutionalism(s)
    (pp. 259-289)
    ROBERT ADCOCK, MARK BEVIR and SHANNON C. STIMSON

    New institutionalism in American political science is often characterized in relation to a certain periodization of academic political studies in the preceding century. According to this scheme, an old institutionalism was dominant from the late nineteenth century until well into the interwar years. In the 1950s behavioralism developed; it flourished as the disciplinary mainstream through the 1960s, only to wane in the 1970s. Emerging from reactions against behavioralism, the new institutionalism came into its own as a broad new paradigm underlying a range of cutting-edge research agendas during the 1980s.¹

    Such an account does capture certain elements of the discipline’s...

  17. Thirteen Institutionalism and the Third Way
    (pp. 290-312)
    MARK BEVIR

    How should we explain New Labour’s attempts to reform the British state?¹ Broadly speaking, we might say that New Labour’s Third Way arose as a response to a perceived crisis in an overloaded state characterized by centralization and vertical integration. The perception of a crisis in the hierarchic state inspired a search by political actors for more flexible, dynamic, and responsive patterns of organization. However, because there were various analyses of the crisis, this broad explanation of the Third Way leaves open the question of why New Labour conceived of the crisis in the particular way it did. In what...

  18. Bibliography
    (pp. 313-348)
  19. Index
    (pp. 349-357)