Páginas: 19 (4548 palabras) Publicado: 7 de septiembre de 2012
the future of political science
jean blondel* and pascal vennesson
European University of Institute, Badia Fiesolana Via dei Roccettini,
9, Florence 50014, Italy
*Corresponding author.

Political science has developed rapidly in the last half-century, but this has
posed at least three serious problems. First, almost no attention has been given
topolitical activity in private bodies: the scope of political analysis is narrowed
as a result. Second, the connection between political science and ‘policy
analysis’ is wholly unclear, which raises the danger that political science may
want to cover too much or too little! Third, political science has always been
concerned with norms, yet aims to be a science: this is no easy relationship.Keywords

micro-politics; policy analysis; ideology


he growth of political science has
been very rapid during the second
half of the twentieth century,
although that growth has been geographically uneven. The American lead
was very marked from the start: it
has remained substantial. In contrast,
advances in Africa and the Middle East
have been limited. Advances in Latin
America andAsia, East, Southeast and
South, are somewhere in between, while,
in Europe, determined efforts have been
made to rise to the top, with mixed
results, however: despite the European
Consortium of Political Research (ECPR),
not just Eastern Europe, but even Southern Europe has not as yet followed
the quick pace at which the number, size
and professionalisation of departments
occurred in Britainand Scandinavia.
Political science therefore needs to
become truly universal: this is likely to


occur gradually, however, and almost
automatically, while the discipline remains
fragile in two respects that ostensibly
affect its core development and perhaps
its overall legitimacy. It is fragile in
the sense that ‘what is political’ still
needs a robust definition: that which
wasprovided by the Oxford Handbook
of Political Science of 2009 marks a
return to past notions about the
centrality of ‘power’, which do not
summarise the characteristics of the
political domain.1 The discipline is also
fragile since its search for a ‘general
theory’ has been as inconclusive as it
was in the early 1950s, when David
Easton made a plea, in The Political
System (1953: 53–55),for such a theory:
no fundamental set of relationships
among political phenomena has been
found which can help to account for the
dynamics of politics.

european political science: 9 2010
(S22 – S29) & 2010 European Consortium for Political Research. 1680-4333/10

The existence of a general theory may
not be a requirement to enable us to
examine widely‘what is political’; the
absence of a truly satisfactory definition
is more of a handicap.2 Yet the difficulties
of political science in both respects seem
to have resulted not in a genuine search
for the solution of what are truly serious
problems that the discipline must confront, but in what can be described as a
mere search for reassurance by means of
a single methodology, as ifmethodology
was the most serious hurdle that the
discipline has to overcome to become a
‘genuine’ science. As a matter of fact, a
wide variety of methods enriches the
discipline while it is simply presumptuous
to claim that we know already the way in
which human beings, in all their complexity, think and act politically.

There are indeed three sets offundamental problems that the discipline needs to
tackle if it is to increase its visibility in the
world while retaining its authenticity.
First, the discipline should cease to be
concerned exclusively with politics in
public bodies and in particular in the
state: it must also devote itself to politics
at the level of the ‘man in the street’. The
importance given to politics in public...
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