Introduction to Research Methods – Lecture 1

Introduction to Research
Methods – Lecture 1
The history of the discipline of
political science and
international relations
Why intellectual history matters (1)
disciplinary identity, its boundaries
are shaped by its history
 It legitimises some approaches and
makes others marginal
 Generates a sense of purpose and
Why intellectual history matters (2)
Contemporary American political science is
relatively uninterested in the concept of
the state which is a central one in Europe
 This in part reflects different modes of
 But early American political science was
shaped by a notion of the state derived
from German ethical traditions
 It was supplanted by a ‘protobehavioural
Hegemony of American political
Other Europe
Depts in top
200 (Hix)
32 (5 in NL)
% of top 200
Where top departments are not
 Asia
 The
 The Arabic world
 Latin America
 Almost completely absent from ECentral Europe and Russia
 EU countries increasingly teach in
Top ten in world
1. Columbia (East coast)
 2. Harvard (East coast)
 3. Stanford (California)
 4. Ohio State
 5 EUI, Firenze
 6. UC, San Diego (California)
 7. UC, Irvine (California)
 8. Indiana
 9. Princeton (East coast)
 10. Yale (East coast)
 20,495
political scientists in US
 10,386 are academics
 One third are women
 6 per cent African American, 4 per
cent Asian American, 3 per cent
 .3% are American Indian or Alaskan
Native (1.4% of US population)
Early origins in US
 1880:
School of Political Science at
Columbia University in NY
established by John Burgess
 John Hopkins, Baltimore
 1903: American Political Science
Association founded
 Woodrow Wilson is early president,
becomes President of USA
Driving forces
 Expansion
of undergraduate
population from 54,300 in 1870 to
597,200 in 1920 creates a demand
for new courses
 Dominant subject of theology in old
colleges challenged by science, e.g.,
 Progressive movement, urban reform
movement of middle class
Driving forces (2)
 Need
to socialise wave of immigrants
in US in last quarter of 19th century
into democracy. Civics in schools.
 Strong German influences on
development of subject in US,
reinforced in inter-war period by
refugees from Nazis
 Cannot take law as a first degree in
the USA
Interwar period: Chicago school
 Turn
away from state, need to realise
political realities of social
 Protobehavioural revolution reacting
against formal, legal and historical
methods of inquiry of 19th century
using new methods of inquiry
 Times were not auspicious for a
scientific revolution
Behavioural revolution of
Times were right – nuclear physics, space
exploration, Cold War competition with
Soviet Union, Second World War advances
in survey techniques
 Aspiration to make political science a
‘normal’ science, free of value judgements
 Political reality existed and could be
understood through the objective
techniques of scientific inquiry
(psychology as model)
Main tenets of behaviouralism
 Sought
to discover uniformities in
political behaviour by systematically
collecting and recording data in a
manner that encouraged replication
 Quantification became important –
and remains so
 Political science has no concern with
moral questions, or at least should
keep them separate
Why behaviouralism failed
Pointed out that not observing behaviour
but reports of people’s behaviour
 Difficult to come up with useful
generalisations as so much behaviour is
contingent or represents adaptation –
model of natural science flawed
 Vietnam War, crisis in US institutions,
accusations of conservatism, Caucus for
New Political Science (1967), Easton calls
for post-behaviouralism (1969)
Legacies of behaviouralism
 Study
of politics should be theory
 Should be self-conscious about
 Should be interdisciplinary
 Strong desire for methodological
rigour remained – rational choice
(versus historical institutionalists)
Perestroika movement (2000)
Respect for political theory and
comparative politics, concern that political
science in US was too narrowly
behavioural and quantitative – united by
opposition to monopoly claim of scientific
 Consider that behaviouralists and rat
choice people think that only they are
doing hard science and that everything
else is dated
Perestroika (2)
 Argue
that some scholars claim that
rational choice institutionalism should
be basis of all analysis
 Questions about engagement with
politics and policy makers, practice of
 ‘English school’ in international
relations has favoured normative
British political science
 In
19th century Benthamite
advocates of a deductive (theory led)
approach and a science of legislation
lost out to advocates of an inductive
approach based on history
 LSE set up to teach colonial
administrators, included many
reformers prominent in the Labour
Party, public intellectuals
Modern Greats established in 1923, part
of a humane tradition that emphasised
classics, literature and history
 ‘The subject is taught by a very few
specialists and a large number of
philosophers and historians who approach
it with varying degrees of enthusiasm or
 As late as 1966 40% of teachers of politics
in universities in Britain had taken history
as first degree
Post-Second World War
Political Studies Association formed in
 Emergence of Manchester department
headed by W J M Mackenzie (eclecticist),
but made politics more social scientific
 Prevalence of Whig interpretation of
history, at worst nostalgia for political
order before 1st World War
 Mixture of moral philosophy (Oxford) and
constitutional history (Cambridge)
Things start to change
 Colonial
constitutions fail
 Britain is gripped after 1960 (the
year of the Brighton Revolution) by a
sense of relative decline and the
failure of its institutions
 University expansion expands
political science especially in
plateglass universities
 Technocratic reformism
Political science comes to Warwick
Wilfrid Harrison
 First
editor of Political Studies
 Taught at Oxford, civil service in war,
then Liverpool
 Founded Warwick department
 Strong believer in tolerant
eclecticism and no dominant
Sceptical professionalism
 Technocratic
reformism comes to an
end in mid to late 1970s
 1980s a difficult decade for UK
universities and political science
 1992 sees new universities, subject
continues to expand
 Formation of European Consortium
for Political Research in 1970
Political science in Europe
 Public
law tradition predominates in
some countries, e.g., France, Italy
 Subject stunted in countries that
were dictatorships, e.g., Greece,
 Particularly strong in Nordic countries
(Sweden, Norway, Finland, Denmark)
also NL, Germany
Chilean political science
association meets in Santiago
Political science in Latin America
 Severely
disrupted by authoritarian
periods in Argentina, Brazil, Chile
 Influence of FLACSO, founded by
Unesco in 1957
 Influence of Catholic thought: St.
Thomas Moore Dept. of Politics
 Importance of sociology
 Intrusions of partisan politics
Dominance of US political science
 Neglect
of state
 Often very inward looking, state level
 Does a lot of work on EU, but model
implicitly a US federal one
 APSA is first loyalty for many British
political scientists, 7,000 at annual
Future developments
 European
wide association following
Bologna reforms
 Recognition of complementary nature
of quantitative and qualitative
 More emphasis on interdisciplinarity
 Increasing internationalisation