The New Political Science APSA
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The Intellectual Origins of New Political ScienceClyde W. Barrowa a
University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth
Available online: 16 May 2008
To cite this article: Clyde W. Barrow (2008): The Intellectual Origins of New Political Science, New Political Science, 30:2, 215-244 To link to this article: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/07393140802082598
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New Political Science, Volume 30, Number 2, June 2008
The Intellectual Origins of New Political ScienceClyde W. Barrow University of Massachusetts, DartmouthAbstract In 1967, the burgeoning discontent of many political scientists culminated in the establishment of the Caucus for a New Political Science. The Caucus included political scientists of many diverse viewpoints, but it was united methodologically by a critique of behavioralism and by the idea that political science should abandon the myth of a valuefree science. In recent years, political scientists have authored numerous commentaries on the tragedy of political science, the crisis in political science, and the ight from reality in political science, while in 2000 these discontents resurfaced in the perestroika rebellion, which again denounced the American Political Science Association as an organization that promotes a narrow parochialism and methodological bias toward the quantitative, behavioral, rational choice, statistical, and formal modeling approaches. This paper reviews the intellectual origins of New Political Science by examining some of the major works of the late 1960s and early 1970s purporting to establish the foundations of a new political science. It concludes that new political science offers a methodological critique of behaviorialism and a sociological critique of the relationship between political science and political power, but there is no consensus on what constitutes a new political science beyond its critical stance toward the existing discipline.
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The burgeoning discontent of many political scientists culminated in the establishment of the Caucus for a New Political Science (CNPS) at the 1967 meeting of the American Political Science Association (APSA). The original constitution of the CNPS states that it was organized to help make the study of politics relevant to the struggle for a better world.1 The Caucus included political scientists of many diverse viewpoints, but it was united by the idea that political scientists should abandon the myth of a value-free science and openly advance a progressive political agenda.2 In 2000, many of the same discontents that led a previous generation of political scientists to organize the CNPS resurfaced in the perestroika rebellion, which denounced the APSA as an organization controlled by East Coast Brahmins and one that promotes a narrow parochialism and methodological bias toward the quantitative, behavioral, rational choice,
1 Caucus for a New Political Science, Constitution (as Revised Fall 1978), (photocopy). 2 David Ricci, The Tragedy of Political Science (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1984); Raymond Seidelman, Disenchanted Realists: Political Science and the American Crisis, 1884 1984 (Albany, NY: State University of New York Press, 1985).
ISSN 0739-3148 print/ISSN 1469-9931 on-line/08/020215-30 q 2008 Caucus for a New Political Science DOI: 10.1080/07393140802082598
216 Clyde W. Barrow statistical, and formal modeling approaches.3 In the wake of this latest rebellion, CNPS membership has roughly doubled, but aside from a vague discontent with the existing discipline and its professional association, it is not likely that most members of the organization can dene the concept of a new political science. This article explores the intellectual origins of New Political Science by reviewing some of the major works of the late 1960s and early 1970s that sought to establish and clarify the foundations of a new political science. It concludes that new political science was established as a methodological critique of behavioralism, an ideological critique of pluralist theory, and a sociological critique of the relation between political science and established political power, but there was never a consensus on what constitutes new political science beyond its critical stance toward the existing discipline and its agreement that political science, as an academic discipline, should be committed to advancing progressive political action in the United States and abroad. Political Science As Behavioralism The behavioral revolution was advanced in the United States under the aegis of systems analysis and pluralist theory.4 Talcott Parsons, who brought systems analysis into the social sciences identied the political system with individual and collective behaviors that provide a center of integration for all aspects of the social system.5 David Easton, who played a major role in initiating the3
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Kristen Renwick Monroe (ed.), Perestroika! The Raucous Rebellion in Political Science (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2005), pp. 1, 9. Also see Robert Salisbury, Current Criticism of APSA is Nothing New, PS: Political Science and Politics 34 (December 2001), p. 767, and Theodore Lowi, Every Poet His Own Aristotle, in Monroe, op. cit., pp. 45 52, on the parallels between the new political science revolt and the Perestroika rebellion. John S. Dryzek, Revolutions without Enemies: Key Transformations in Political Science, American Political Science Review 100:4 (November 2006), p. 491, observes that many of the younger members of the Perestroika e-mail list in the early 2000s were apparently unaware of this last attempted reformation of the discipline, and needed reminding that once there was the Caucus, and indeed that it lived still. 4 For a sampling of the behavioralist literature at the time see David Easton, The Political System: An Inquiry into the State of Political Science (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1953); David Easton, A Systems Analysis of Political Life (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1965); David Easton, A Framework for Political Analysis (Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, 1965); Heinz Eulau, Samuel J. Eldersveld, and Morris Janowitz (eds), Political Behavior: A Reader in Theory and Research (Glencoe, IL: Free Press, 1956); S. Sidney Ulmer (ed.), Introductory Readings in Political Behavior (Chicago: Rand McNally, 1961); James C. Charlesworth (ed.), The Limits of Behavioralism in Political Science (Philadelphia: American Academy of Political Social Science, 1962); Austin Ranney (ed.), Essays on the Behavioral Study of Politics (Urbana, IL: University of Illinois Press, 1962); Heinz Eulau, The Behavioral Persuasion in Politics (New York: Random House, 1963). 5 Talcott Parsons, The Social System (Glencoe, IL: Free Press), pp. 75, 126 127, states that political science is concerned with the power relations within the institutional system and with a broader aspect of settlement of terms. . . . Neither power in the political sense nor the operation of government as a sub-system of the social system can be treated in terms of a specically specialized conceptual scheme . . . precisely for the reason that the political problem of the social system is a focus for the integration of all of its analytically distinguishable components, not of a specically differentiated class of these components. Political science thus tends to be a synthetic science, not one built about an analytical theory as is the case with economics.
The Intellectual Origins of New Political Science 217 behavioral revolution in political science, rejected the fundamental concepts of earlier political scientists by declaring that neither the state nor power is a concept that serves to bring together political research. In urging political scientists to abandon the analysis of state and power, Easton proposed that scholars study the political system, which was dened as those interactions through which values are authoritatively allocated for a society.6 Such an analysis would focus on decision-making (i.e. authoritative allocations of values) and how these authoritative allocations facilitate the equilibrium of the overall social system. Behavioralism and systems analysis became closely intertwined with pluralist theory, which views decision-making as the outcome of bargaining and conict between interest groups in society.7 The signicance of pluralist theory is that it seemed to explain how political systems could induce most citizens to accept decisions as authoritative (i.e. legitimate) most of the time. Robert A. Dahl, who w