Essay Archives

Political Science & the Public Sphere

June 12th, 2012

Political Science and the New Arab Public Sphere

Submitted by Marc Lynch, George Washington University

The uprisings which surged through the Arab world in 2011 did not come from nowhere. They represented in part the manifestation of a long, structural transformation in the region’s public sphere which radically undermined the ability of states to control or shape information. Challenges to authoritarian regimes, on the streets and online, had been growing [...]

September 4th, 2011

'Too Much Information:' International Affairs, Political Science and the Public Sphere

Submitted by Lisa Anderson, American University, Cairo

Stephen Walt’s observations about the “growing gap between university-based scholars and both the policy world and the public sphere” echo, as he points out, many such laments in recent years, and much virtuous self-criticism in the academy. Political scientists (and area studies specialists) have been quick to castigate themselves about the irrelevance of their work [...]

September 1st, 2011

Political Science and the Public Sphere in the 21st Century

Submitted by Rogers M. Smith, University of Pennsylvania

Fifteen years ago, I was one of several political scientists asked to participate in an interdisciplinary conference organized by the American Academy of Arts and Sciences to analyze transformations in four disciplines over the last fifty years.[1] That request prompted me to become more of a student of the history of American political science, its [...]

July 21st, 2011

International Affairs and the Public Sphere

Submitted by Stephen M. Walt, Harvard University

Most social scientists would like to believe that their profession contributes to solving pressing global problems. Indeed, the United States and many other modern societies subsidize university-based research and teaching on the assumption that scholars will develop useful knowledge about today’s world, communicate that knowledge to their students and to the broader public, and, where [...]

December 10th, 2009

The Public Responsibilities of Political Science

Submitted by Rogers M. Smith, University of Pennsylvania

Michael Burawoy’s 2004 American Sociological Association Presidential Address, entitled “For Public Sociology,” painted a complex picture. He delineated multiple public sociologies, particularly “traditional” public sociology, aimed at prompting discussion among mainstream publics generally, and “organic” public sociology, developed in close connection with a particular active public or, more often, “counter-public.” And he contrasted these public [...]

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