John E. Trent
Centre on Governance, University of Ottawa

Prepared for the International Political Science Association Conference
International Political Science:
New Theoretical and Regional Perspectives
Montreal, April 30- May 2, 2008

Introduction: The World of Political Science: The Development of the Discipline Book Series

The IPSA invited me to report to you on the empirical evidence about issues, trends and perspectives on political science, as found in Research Committee 33’s book series entitled: The World of Political Science: Development of the Discipline. The series is intended to be an analysis, explanation, evaluation and projection of developments in political science undertaken by members of the IPSA Research Committees that have opted to join the Project. Its aim is to use a common research model to go beyond the simple descriptions of traditional "state-of-the-art reviews" and thus contribute to an explanation of the discipline’s current state of development.

Of course, we cannot claim that all the volumes in the series have followed exactly identical paths or that they have slavishly accepted the research model. That is not the way of political scientists. Two examples, you will find this paper relatively thin on questions of infrastructure and explanation. As some might say, getting our colleagues to follow a particular path is like herding cats. And therein lies a problem for the discipline. The reality is that most political scientists are not interested in evaluating their discipline. They want to get on with their research and not be too bothered with the ‘whys’ and ‘hows’. RC 33 believes, however, that political scientists should not carry on blindly. We would not recommend it to the polities we study. It is only by understanding the development of our discipline that we can meet the challenges of the future. In the end, rather than insisting on identical volumes, the editors, reviewers and publisher agreed to go to press once we had a good, informative and interesting volume that came close to the guidelines.

This project was launched in 1997 in Seoul at the 17th World Congress of the International Political Science Association (IPSA). As former Secretary General and a host of the 18th World Congress in Quebec City, I presented to the Association a series of proposals for celebrating the Millennium and IPSA’s 50th anniversary. One of these proposals was a project to analyze the components of the discipline entitled “Developments in Political Science at the Year 2000” which would result in a series of publications. Originally known as Project 2000, the title was later changed to “THE WORLD OF POLITICAL SCIENCE: DEVELOPMENT OF THE DISCIPLINE”.

Combined meetings of the IPSA Program and Executive Committees in Quebec and Boston in 1998 and 1999 approved the project. It was sponsored by RC 33 which is dedicated to the study of the discipline, headed at the time by Michael Stein and David Easton. At the project's inception, RC 33 established an IPSA 2000 Project Sub-Committee composed of leading world analysts of the development of political science. These scholars have been responsible for formulating the analytical approach and research model utilized in the project, and also helped in reviewing the volumes. .

Members of the IPSA 2000 Project Sub-Committee are:Henrik Bang (Denmark), David Easton (USA), James Farr (USA), John G. Gunnell (USA),Takashi Inoguchi (Japan), Adele Jinadu (Nigeria), and Klaus Von Beyme (Germany). The co-chairs of the Project Sub-Committee and Editors of the Book Series are Michael Stein and John Trent, while the research coordinator for the project is Tim Heinmiller. The Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada financed the project.

Project Methodology

Prior to the IPSA 2000 Congress in Quebec City, all of the IPSA research committees were offered the opportunity to hold special sessions relating to the development of their respective sub-disciplines in political science. From these special sessions, and subsequent conferences, a number of research committees have formulated the volumes that comprise the bulk of the World of Political Science book series. The final volume in the series will then draw from the findings of all the previous volumes in an effort to evaluate the development of political science, as a whole.

For comparative purposes, the research committees participating in the project have been asked to follow a common methodology that encourages analysis and explanation. All the elements of the discipline are analyzed, including both research output and infrastructure, in an effort to move toward causal explanations as to why the discipline has evolved to its current state. The hypothesis is that by understanding better how we got where we are, we will be able to better plan where we want to go. To ensure comprehensive and comparable treatment of all the sub-disciplines, the editor of each volume was invited to mould his studies around four archetypal orientations:

  1. A state-of-the-art type survey of current activities;
  2. A study of conditions in methodology, concepts, training and communication of research;
  3. A synthetic overview analysis and explanation of developments and trends;
  4. A critical perspective focusing on present strengths and weaknesses with suggestions for the future.

In addition, because the books are aimed at those who want to know more about the field as well as specialists, we asked the editors to be brief and to avoid jargon. The details of the comparative methodology for the book series can be found in Appendix B. The books currently published include volumes on interdisciplinarity, political theory, political processes, public administration, local government, and interest group politics. The next four volumes will include another in the field of inter-disciplinarity, and ones on ethnicity and nationalism, gender and politics, and intergovernmental relations. In all, the 10 volumes in the series furnish us an interesting sample of the discipline. We cannot expect these books to be representative of the whole discipline. Rather they are empirical ‘straws in the wind’ allowing each of us to test out the findings against our own knowledge of our own fields of competence. At present, the books are:

Dirk Berg-Schlosser (ed.) Democratization: the State of the Art, 2nd rev. ed., 2007

Linda Shepherd (ed.) Political Psychology, 2006

Rainer Eisfeld (ed.) Pluralism: Developments in the Theory and Practice of Democracy. 2006

David Coen & Wyn Grant (eds.) Business and Government: Methods and Practice, 2006

Harald Baldersheim & Hellmut Wollmann (eds.), The Comparative Study of Local Government & Politics, 2006

R.B. Jain (ed.) Governing Development across Cultures: Challenges and Dimensions of an Emerging Sub-Discipline in Political Science, 2007

Subratra K. Mitra, Malte Pehl and Clemens Spiess (eds.) Political Sociology: The State of the Art, 2009

All published by Barbara Budrich Publishers, Opladen, Germany

The four forthcoming publications in the series include:

Jean Tournon (ed.), Politics and Ethnicity, (RC 14)

Robert Agranoff (ed.) Comparative Federalism, (RC 28)

Jane Bayes (ed.) Women and Politics, (RC 7 & 19)

Overview of the Volumes

One of the reasons for asking the Research Committees to undertake the analysis of development of the discipline in their fields was that we have come to the conclusion that it is very difficult for any of us to be cognizant of all the sub-fields in the amazingly complex and diversified discipline that political science has become (witness our 50 research committees that do not even completely cover our area of study). So I should take a little time to allow the editors of the volumes to introduce their books and their fields of study to you. For the most part in this paper I will have to shun the particular so as to find time to seek out what may be of common interest to the development of our discipline. Following this survey of the individual volumes, to focus the paper I will search for five types of empirical evidence from the books: 1) orientations and trends in political science; 2) problems and 3) advances in the discipline; 4) explanations of the state of development of political science and 5) proposals for its improvements. Let me add one little note here. When I give a reference it is to an author in one of the volumes. But it should be understood that because these books are overviews of the various sub-fields, each one of their observations or conclusions is usually backed up by several references to the specialized literature that can be found in the volumes themselves. Also, I stick pretty closely to the texts, letting the authors speak for themselves.

Political Psychology: Political Psychology is the scholarly activity concerned with understanding the causes, dynamics, and consequences of human thinking and action in the context of politics. It is concerned with causal processes working in two directions: the impact of psychological processes on the unfolding of political behaviour as well as the impact of political events on psychological processes (McGraw: 18). Some of us might not think this field is all that central to political science until we meditate on the names of its leading practitioners – Hayward Alker, Elizabeth and Kenneth Boulding, J.M. Burns, J.C. Davies, Sebastian de Grazia, Erik Erikson, A.L. George, Betty Glad, Fred Greenstein, Margaret Hermann, Ole Holsti, Bob Jervis, Robert Lane, Harold Lasswell, K. Lewin, Elizabeth Marvick, D.C.McClelland, Wm. McGuire, Lucien Pye , L.I. and S.H. Rudolph, Herbert Simon, R.C. Snyder, W.F. Stone, Phil Tetlock, and David Winter, to say nothing of Sigmund and Anna Freud and even Max Weber – all of them creative contributors to the renewal of our discipline.

According to Linda Shepherd, political psychology is an interdisciplinary perspective born of a need to solve practical problems during World War II. Applications range “from public opinion to elite decision-making, from inter-group conflict to political leadership, from theories of personality development, individual cognition, and individual motivation to mass political behaviour, internal conflict and mass communication” (p.13). The field benefits from the willingness of scholars to blend diverse techniques: quantitative and qualitative, experimental and survey, content analytic and psycho-diagnostic.

Despite a growing internationalization of political psychology, there is still a predominance of western models in the field and most of the elements of its infrastructure are centred in the United States. In his look ahead, David Winter’s believes the field’s challenge lies in globalization. Issues of evolving capitalism, income inequality, relative deprivation, ethnic stratification, nationalism, prejudice, violence, cynicism, corruption and institutional erosion will increasingly affect individual perceptions, psychology, and behaviour just as it is influencing governance, legitimacy and bureaucratic conduct (pp. 16-17).

Business and Politics: Traditionally business was considered one group among others in interest group and pluralist theory. Empirical studies of business and government started to appear in the 1970s. Although there has been a considerable increase in the number of studies of business and government, it has tended to focus on trade associations especially in Europe but there is still a paucity of direct studies of company strategy and organization. And yet, business has developed a more and more sophisticated appreciation of the policy process and of complex strategies of influence. With globalization, it also has a freer hand. International companies now have “multiple opportunity structures” with regional governments like the EU and international organizations like the World Trade Organization (WTO). This affords firms “multi-level opportunity structures” for “venue shopping” in which to exercise “mutually reinforcing strategies”. There are also new opportunities for “trans-national self-regulation” – also called the privatization of public policy – with non-governmental bodies such as international accounting bodies and credit rating firms (Coen and Grant: 13-15).

The Business and Politics sub-field studies the exercise of power and influence by business and whether or not it has a privileged position despite the countervailing strength of unions and environmentalists, and whether there are trends to state corporatism. Another burgeoning topic is the establishment by large corporations of policy-issue experts usually coordinated by government-affairs teams that seek a stable political environment and often promote “good governance”. These may coordinate through complex and flexible advocacy coalitions. Then there is the study of what governments seek in their relations with business and how they organize to manage these relations. Governments generally look for legitimacy, information, expertise, and policy cooperation.

Everyday life reminds us of the importance of the relationship between business and politics. Certainly, this is born out by the facts that public records estimate that in 2003 there were 30,000 lobbyists operating in Washington and another 20,000 in Brussels, and that 9,727 firms from around the world made representations to the U.S. Senate and spent $2.4 billion in lobbying in the U.S. (Coen and Grant: 19). Yet for all the increased literature and recognition that business plays an increasing role in formulating, implementing and delivering public policy, there is still a short supply of direct studies of company strategy and organization (ibid p. 14).

Bureaucracy, Development and Governance: In the book Governing Development across Cultures, R. B. Jain and his colleagues describe the evolution of the sub-field of public administration in Third World (developing) countries since its inception in the post-colonial period. Evolution there has been, not to say upheaval. As Jain maintains, “In the context of developing societies in the process of accelerated socio-economic change, the perception of administrative realities is constantly changing” (p. 33).The constant has been the continuing need for an effective public administration as an instrument of development – whether or not it is capable or available. By stages, the field has managed to include traditional Weberian bureaucracy, development administration, dependency theory, comparative public administration, sustainable development, the policy revolution, good governance and governance. It is worth summarizing the nuances between these stages because they describe the content of both the field and the book.

As outlined by Jain, in the colonial and post-colonial periods, studies concentrated on making a specific identity of their attempts to transplant Western public-administration (Weberian bureaucracy) to the non-rational environments of countries emerging from colonial rule. Notions of respect for political masters, hierarchy, observance of a system of rules, division of labour, impersonality and maintaining a high standard of integrity were not always viable in agricultural societies with one party or military rule and politicized bureaucracies. Development administration came to focus on plans and projects putting bureaucracy, as an instrument of state action, at the service of rapid socio-economic development and nation-building in the Third World rather than law and order administration. The political role of bureaucracy has been one of the principal issues of discussion. For a period, dissatisfaction with stagnant underdevelopment led public administration studies to be taken over by neo-Marxist dependency theory which accused international capitalism and its local allies in the comprador bourgeoisie of being responsible for a lack of capital and technology. This gave rise to interpretations of bureaucracy in these countries as a class within itself, conscious of its interests and interrelations with the state and elites.

As a partial corrective, comparative public administration attempted to use more rigorous and empirical methodology and theoretical generalizations to discover patterns and regularities of administrative behaviour in the study of all bureaucracy as a general phenomenon across cultures (Vidu Soni: 72-74). A decade of anti-government rhetoric and bureaucracy bashing brought in New Public Administration with downsized government, greater reliance on market principles and private sector management techniques such as personal responsibility of managers, program evaluation, performance measurements, accountability and streamlined management. Painting on a larger canvas influenced by environmentalist concerns for the globe, sustainable development is a growing paradigm that sees development and environmental stewardship as a universal obligation of both advanced and Third World countries in maintaining a balance for survival and growth of citizens (Khator 1998).

Good governance was introduced as a more expansive concept by the World Bank in the 1990s claiming that one cannot get economic development without effective government. The concept includes the rule of law including protection of property rights and an independent judiciary, bureaucratic transparency, participation, voice and accountability by all groups, effectiveness and efficiency of public management, rights, liberties and freedom of expression, control of corruption, and cooperation between government and civil society. Like many fads, it did not take long for “good governance” to be challenged as an American and development agency sponsored drive to implant liberal-democratic capitalist regimes and a minimal state with continuous debureaucratization and an increasing role for deregulation, the private sector and NGOs. It is currently a contested concept with little consensus and in some senses has led to a return to a broadened and continually more inclusive concept of governance that takes into account politics, social structure and cultural norms – variables not under the direct control of public policy. Governance signifies internal and external political and economic power, legitimacy and authority derived from an economic mandate, and an efficient, open, accountable and audited public service (Leftwich 1993). Nevertheless, “While there may not be best practices, there are certainly… practices to be avoided” (Fukuyama 2004: 83).

Through it all, Jain maintains, it has been shown that results-oriented officials should not sacrifice traditional rules, procedures and norms of fairness and just distribution on the alter of rapid development. Rather, various studies have demonstrated the need for flexibility, consideration of practical exigencies, acceptance of dissent and open decision-making, a client-oriented philosophy, and imbedded values of service and sympathy for the weak (pp. 28-31)

Democratization: The state of the art – Geraldo Munck organizes recent studies in democratization into three main agendas emphasizing transitions to democracy, and the later issues of stability and quality. Scholarly interest in the wave of democratization that began in Southern Europe (Spain, Portugal, Greece) in 1974 has since resulted in a large amount of theoretical and empirical research. But starting even before this and continuing since, some 40 of the major names of political science have focused on the conditions of democracy. Analysis of transitions owes its distinctiveness to the real world significance of the relatively defined topic dealing with the threshold of passing the critical step of competitive elections with mass suffrage – and a focus on why some countries have had democratic transitions and others not. This transition has touched the lives of people since the 1870s in the English-speaking countries and Western Europe and then in the struggles of decolonization in Latin America and more recently in Southern Europe, Asia, and now the former countries of the Soviet Union. With some 40 percent of countries never having achieved democracy and the continuing possibility of democratic breakdown, the subject is not likely to lose its interest. Major cross regional studies have been conducted providing a wealth of ideas on causes of transitions, nuanced information and comparative analysis.

Research on the politics that follow transitions is harder to assess because of a lack of consensus concerning the subject matter. Regime and institutional analysis have been so diverse that it has been hard to organize the field around defined questions. Efforts to conceptualize the period of consolidation have been jettisoned in favour of analysis of the stability and quality of democracy, but they are still defined in a great variety of ways. And there is still a need for explicit criteria for distinguishing democratic-authoritarian regime changes from changes within democracy. More recently, as more countries have remained democratic, scholars have sensed that they differ in more fundamental ways and there is a need for a new agenda on the quality of democracy which is still in its early stages. Although there are concerns about the delimitation of the subject matter, clues are emerging about the agenda. Transitional and stability studies have tended to focus on the Schumpeterian concept of electoral democracy. There is a broad consensus on the need to broaden research to capture the concept of quality. Dahl (1989) has led the way with theoretical questions about whether the process of decision-making manages to reflect the equal weighting of voter preferences. Other useful leads, despite problems of the production and measurement of data, cover the study of corruption, clientelism, representation and accountability.

Pluralism, its editor, Rainer Eisfeld tells us, is at once a descriptive (positive) and a prescriptive (normative) concept. In a nutshell, pluralism offers a group and a participatory theory – a theory of individual participation by social association in the political process. The concept establishes the existence of a plurality of interests and corresponding social groups which as latent centres of power may (and are permitted to) organize into associations. Normatively, it endorses the transformation of this diversity into public policies, which, in turn, are aimed at shaping the social order by a process of group conflict, negotiation and compromise, on condition that basic rights and principles of justice remain respected and protected (Eisfeld 2006: 15).

Pluralism was forged by British thinkers (Harold Laski, Mary Follett among others) in the early 20th century. Groups were envisaged to operate as instruments representing and enhancing the political capacities of individuals, not replacing them. Political man acting through and in control of freely established associations is the normative vision of pluralism. The problem, of course, is that there is a built-in tension between individual interests and those of the group and its leadership. These substitute themselves for individual action thus diminishing individual-centred democracy. Maldistribution of political resources in hierarchical organizations skews the political process. Inducing institutional and attitudinal change remains the main challenge of pluralism.

Pluralism originally emerged as an effort to renew the liberal tenets of John Locke and Adam Smith with their emphasis on freely competing men. Locke’s abhorrence of “sinister” factional interest was replaced by John Stuart Mills who had concluded that Locke’s fear was “detached from any tenable theory of society”. He believed labour associations were a necessary instrumentality of a free market. Alexis de Tocqueville’s studies of America made his observations a springboard for contemporary thinkers picking up on his vision of “extemporaneous assemblies” governed by the “reason and free will” of their members.

As the 20th century advanced, “political capitalism” composed of giant corporations, oligopolistic markets, large scale farmer, labour and professional associations, and the intervention of administrative bureaucracies, functioned to minimize the individual even more. More and more, business, labour and farmers associations became unequal partners in seeking government support. In the post-war period enterprises spread their subsidiaries around the world without being bound by any “notions of constituency, responsiveness and accountability”. In a world of national and international blocs, the individual was shunted to the sidelines, becoming apathetic and alienated.

During all this period, Eisfeld goes on to tell us, different waves of pluralists sought ways of putting the individual back in the centre of things. Laski and G.D.H. Cole advocated industrial democracy with workers controlling rather owners, an idea that was picked up later on by Robert Dahl and Charles Lindblom. “No political democracy can be real that is not as well the reflection of an economic democracy” (Laski 1919: 38). Arthur Bentley’s early theories of the individual being subsumed by group politics were picked up by David Truman in the 1950s. After the “New Deal” reforms, individual freedom and consent in America’s liberal democracy were judged to be guaranteed by overlapping group memberships and cross-cutting individual solidarities and bargaining. However, Dahl and Lindblom’s research showed control and access to government were determined to a considerable extent by income, education and status. With resources unequally distributed, politics were dominated by business and by groups and group leaders. Although the concept should not be allowed to become frozen in time, today’s pluralists continue to think it is a valid and powerful approach for inquiring into 21st century democracy. This, however, is based on the twin premises that political science remains concerned by the problem of securing broad participation and equitable representation and that the reduction of disparities of political resources is still of prime importance (Eisfeld: 11-15).

The book on Pluralism also goes on to discuss two recent developments. With the increasing importance of migration, Avigail Eisenberg contrasts voluntary associations with ethnocultural “communities” which had been left out of original pluralist thinking and subsequent American and British practice. Her chapter again highlights the importance of an equitable distribution of political resources as a basis for meaningful choices and the need to include as many societal interests as possible. But it raises the questions of whether all interests are amenable to negotiation and compromise and whether individual rights can be balanced against group rights?

The second development is globalization. The usual vision of globalization is one of diminishing governance, imbedded neo-liberalism, and the raising of the “privileged” position of business to one of a virtual “veto power”. It is assumed that with the increasing disparity of economic and political resources, social plurality will translate into less and less political pluralism. Philip Cerny analyses this paradox but disputes the automatic conclusion. Globalization drastically changes the structures of the political playing field, replacing the hegemony of the nation-state with “multi-nodal” politics. This “pluralisation” on a number of levels opens up new access points and sites for “pluralist” action.

Local Politics: During the past forty years, Michael Goldsmith tells us the field of urban politics and local government has gone from studying community power and regime theory, to a concern for metropolitan government, to output studies and the analysis of fiscal stress, to social capital, and to the impact of intergovernmental relations and the rise of the EU and of regional governments (the meso level). Change was rapid and each decade seemed to have its priority.

Although this volume focuses principally on European research, Goldsmith stresses the contributions of U.S. scholars. Most of the innovations since the Second World War have come from Americans with their numerical superiority, specialist groups and journals, theorizing, and more generous research funding. European political scientists learned their trade at American graduate schools.

In community studies, Americans found that in most cases power was in the hands of elites – but rarely a single elite. Nevertheless, policies favoured major economic interests and growth and development rather than distribution. In Europe, on the other hand, extensive welfare powers were delegated to local governments which were rarely implicated in economic development. Also, the highly partisan nature of European local government meant that the politics was more accessible to a wider social base. Despite bankruptcy of American cities in the 1970s, Europeans were not originally hit by the same fiscal crisis as they were more creatures of the state. It was the emergence of neo-liberal governments at the national level that generated the local fiscal crises in Europe. Fragmentation of local service delivery became a subject of research concern as did the loss of status of local government.

Metropolitan government was much discussed but rarely acted upon except in London and Canada. Elsewhere coordination was voluntary and the Americans even thought that public choice theory favoured their fractioned municipalities. A more predominant thrust in Europe has been the continuing process of decentralization and the growth of the regional (meso) level of government. This led to a flowering of research on networks and relations between different policy communities and raised awareness of the importance of the territorial dimension of politics.

Since the 1990s there have been a number of new themes. The notion of “divided cities” brought to the fore the concept of governance in efforts to include consideration of gender, citizenship and urban politics. Local democracy was not considered to be what it should be with the decline in electoral turnout and young researchers decided to try to change this trend. Municipalities became less accountable and more closed as special interests took their place in “competitive” cities. New Public Management and public choice theory led to many studies as well as to privatization, contracting out, streamlining, hierarchical reform, performance measurement and competition. But it was considered by some that although NPM seems to have a clear set of doctrines, once it is looked at closely its apparent clarity starts to dissolve and to turn into a set of slogans and contradictory reform programs. In other work, scholars monitored the “revolutionary” establishment of a new level of democratic local government in central and east Europe. There is continued concern about globalization forcing competitive economic performance at the expense of redistribution and services, and about the relative merits of regions versus cities as actors

Throughout this period comparative work and inter-regional contacts blossomed with growth in strength of the European Consortium for Political Research (ECPR) and its workshops, and the Research Committee on Local Government of the International Political Science Association (IPSA), initially led by the late Franco Kjellberg.

Political Sociology: The field of political sociology, the editors Subratra Mitra and Malte Pehl tell us, has often been mistaken as a simple sub-field of one or other of the two disciplines. Rather, they see it as a hybrid discipline which uses both political and social structures and processes to analyse and explain the two-way interaction of the political and social spheres. As Sartori (1969) had pointed out, it is an endeavour distinct form the mere sociology of politics. As its early practitioners, the field claims Émile Durkheim, Alexis de Tocqueville, Karl Marx, Max Weber, André Siegfried, Vilfredo Pareto, Gaetano Mosca, Moisei Ostrogorski, Robert Michels, Maurice Duverger, Pierre Bourdieu, Gabriel Almond, Stein Rokkan, Seymour Martin Lipset and Paul Lazarsfeld.

These pioneers introduced such concepts and fields as classes, elites and masses, class consciousness, control of the state, social stratification, social action, distinctions between power, authority, legitimacy and domination, politics as the struggle for power, the political class, elite competition, bureaucratization, the” iron law of oligarchy”, political culture, the intermediary role of parties and unions, cleavage theory, political capital, mobilization, networks and voting behaviour as reflecting social predispositions and positioning as well as rational calculations.

Political sociology has many arrows in its quiver. Depending on whether the object of inquiry is mainly goal-oriented behaviour (action), the societal make-up of the country (structure), or organized political processes (institutions), one may claim that it belongs to either one of the actor-oriented, structuralist or institutionalist paradigms in political sociology or represents a combination of them. Political sociologists analyse how social structures influence specific aspects of political systems, looking, for instance, at what specific conditions led to democratization and to authoritarianism. It also studies the mutual influence of social structure, for instance social classes and social cleavages, on political behaviour and attitudes in domains such as voting, mobilization, and political culture. Social and political structures are also affected by dynamic processes such as aging, migration, rights of women and economic change. More recently, constructivist paradigms have started to consider the collective causes and impacts of globalization and of shared norms and values as an alterative view of transnational relations. This too has brought back to the fore issues of state autonomy, the relative power of the state and the states responses to the competition of economic elites. Underlying all these studies has been the continuing quest for adequate quantitative and qualitative methodologies and more recently, their combination.

In his conclusion, Jan van Deth, notes that in the past few decades political sociology seems to have lost much of its traditional position to other sub-disciplines and more specific approaches (e.g. institutionalism, comparative sociology, comparative politics, rational choice, postmodernism, post-structuralism etc.) This development has been stimulated by important changes in the position of the state itself. The distinction between state and society, the main premise of political sociology, gradually disappeared and has been replaced by a much more ambiguous “melding and blending” of state and society. The position of the state changed due to the rise of multinational corporations, NGOs, international organizations and supra-national arrangements. While none of these imply the end of the state as the superior form to organise political power, it is clear that these changes should not be neglected by political sociologists. In fact, the reluctance to deal with the changing distribution of power probably contributed to the decline of the sub-discipline. Nevertheless, the call for a ‘new political sociology” or a “paradigm shift” have not been supported by unexpected results and a “continuing incremental progress in explanatory abilities” supplemented by a renewal of topics and theoretical approaches seems the best path to the future. Political sociologists should be at the forefront of the debates over the redistribution of power and the position of the national state (xx manu.126).

The book undertakes to provide insights into key issues and questions in select areas of political sociology. Political culture is looked at from a modified systems theoretical perspective. It is found that technological, socio-economic and political changes in recent decades have had profound effects on the emergence and operations of political parties and organizations. Democracy and inequality are analysed from the perspectives of inter-class and inter-elite competition and mobility. Approaches to the modern state are analysed in the context of the putative waning of state power due to challenges from globalization and the re-emergence of local issues. A final chapter critically analyses the overstatement of calls for “post-modern” and “post-structural” approaches. It takes a steady-as-it-goes approach to improving the research agenda at hand via such techniques as multilevel studies, longitudinal programmes, meta-analysis of existing research.

Orientations and Trends in Political Science

In this section, we want to look at orientations and trends in the discipline from the past two decades that have been highlighted in the volumes in our Book Series. They may include current approaches, theoretical orientations, concepts, data sets, behaviour, regime analysis or resource distribution etc. Here they are produced seriatim in the way they were highlighted in the books. Later they will be synthesized more systematically.

Political psychology sees political economy as its opponent in the struggle for the soul of political science. For instance, its practitioners make a powerful case against rational choice theory when it is taken alone. “Assumptions of rationality, or indeed irrationality, are often extreme over-simplifications … Incorporating rational choice theory into a broader framework allows political psychology to see the self as complex, socially constructed, motivated by loyalties to groups as well as self-interest, characterized by cognitive and affective influences that interact, and composed of multiple identities – both public and private – which shape political behaviour and political process” (Shepherd: 131, Monroe 2002). Scholars have come to accept the empirical evidence that rational choice assumptions such as full information, expected utility maximization, and hyper-rationality are unrealistic (McGraw: 33). In summary, “to be truly empirical, this science must look at how people actually behave in a variety of situations, noting both the rational and affective aspects of their choices (Marvick and Glad). Additionally, a perspective in political psychology acknowledges individuals and human nature as important influences on political institutions and recognizes the importance of values and the cultural and personal context for the preferences of masses and elites.

Similarly, in his chapter on public choice approaches in the book on Business and Politics, Broscheid found that they add to our ability to study lobbying by their qualities of generality and parsimony but not necessarily by their descriptive realism.

In personality theory and the analysis of political leadership, political psychologists appear to have learned that malignant narcissistic personalities all seem to have failed to form early attachments to nurturing figures – a pre-condition for empathy and trust. In the maturation process, they failed to establish a basic sense of self-worth and coherence that makes possible consistent, realistic relations with the outside world. As compensation, all formed grandiose ideas of themselves as omnipotent. All had strongly paranoid tendencies and lacked inhibitions against extreme cruelty, acting out their sadistic impulses against others who represented to them bad aspects of themselves (Hitler, Stalin, Saddam Hussein). On the other hand, leaders who enjoyed childhoods exceptionally free from physical restrictions and indulgent in the satisfaction of nurturing needs were able to channel their narcissistic needs into self-images of autonomous free-thinkers, pursuing their political ambitions as an honourable duty in the service of their ideals with an ability to apprehend and adapt to their audiences (Washington, Jefferson, Gandhi, Mandela, Gorbachev)(Marvick and Glad: 42-52).

However, these diverse leadership theories so far seem to have been based on a single variable. They still require the identification of a cluster of deeply embedded traits expressed in a social system that permits their relatively free acting out, in order to differentiate destructive from constructive leaders. Moreover, one must consider the leader in terms of choices he makes within a milieu that provides opportunities for, as well as limits upon action. The actor is linked to the arena of action by his perceptions of it but there are real constraints on his possibility of action (Marvick and Glad: 47, 59). For instance, American presidents operate in an environment in which the legal and organizational factors are inherited, and a cluster of ideas and interest groups creates conditions of past and future regimes to which the leader must relate. But his values, political styles, and decision-making operandi will influence how he interprets and adapts to that milieu Skowronek 1993).

In business and politics, traditional lobbying, donations and trade associations are giving way to debates over the setting up of associations with direct membership of CEOs of large companies to engage in influencing and dialoguing with governments. The study of this partnership relationship has evolved from various forms of corporatism to broader debates about varieties of capitalism defined in terms of relations between the state, capital and labour (Coen and Grant: 16-19).

Cathy Jo Martin reports on studies that allow her to make three generalizations about corporate preference formation. First, institutions do indeed matter but there influence varies across policy areas. The further an issue is from the company’s core profit-making activity, the greater is the degrees of freedom in the construction of the firm’s policy preferences. Second, different institutions matter under diverse regime types. Europeans prefer employer’s associations for engagement in the political sphere due to narrower access and veto-points, while American and British tend to prefer firm-level action. European scholars provide more comparative analysis of these phenomena. Finally, public institutions and their policy entrepreneurs matter in addition to private corporate actions. “Public policy, by definition, is not the primary business of firms; therefore business managers tend to be reactive, following the lead of others in deciding to get involved with policy issues” Martin: 67-70).

Turning now to the subject of Bureaucracy, Development and Governance, “the empirical literature suggests there is no necessary relationship between democracy and development. Both democratic and non-democratic Third World regimes have been able to generate high levels of economic development. No examples of good or sustained growth in the developing world have occurred under conditions of uncompromising economic liberalism, whether democratic or not… The state has played an active role in influencing economic behaviour. Thus, it is not the regime type, but the kind and character of the state and its associated politics that have been decisive in influencing developmental performance. This in turn highlights the primacy of politics, not simply governance, as a central determinant of development” (Jain: 37, Leftwich: 432).

From a developmental point of view, the general but simplistic appeal for better “governance” as a condition of development is virtuous but naïve. Without a developmental state, democratic market-friendly strategies will sooner or later break up on the rocks of their own internally generated economic inequalities and escalating political strife, especially in premature democracies. This is why current Western insistence on markets, governance and democracy as the key to development seems both so ideological and naïve. (Jain: 38, Leftwich: 418).

Is governance improving? Kaufman finds that, “On average there has been scant, if any, progress in good governance world wide in controlling corruption and in improved institutional quality… Why? Indeed the evidence is suggestive on the need to transcend the narrow public management approaches… that has ignored the capacity and political constraints faced by many emerging countries and it has also failed to confront the stark reality of how the private sector significantly influences public governance in many settings. (Jain: 40, Kaufmann 2003).

Despite globalization, liberalization and privatization, public sector-led private synergy for institutional and economic development is still a characteristic of the emerging dimension of governance in many developing countries (Jain 2005).

The problem of the reform of public administration in Third World countries has not been a lack of proposals but rather the impediments to their implementation. This has to do with entrenched interests, outdated administrative systems, lack of direction and centralized and hierarchical decision-making in which those who actually perform the work of government have little control and lack the requisite skills (Jain: 41, Aucoin 1990).

The next topic deals with findings in the field of democratization research. The literature has challenged the longstanding modernization argument that the level of economic development is a good predictor of transition to democracy. Transitions do not occur through a single process but rather through multiple paths defined by factors such as the relative power and strategies of elites and masses. Democratization is strongly influenced by the prior type of regime and the type of actors that oppose the authoritarian rule. More pointedly, prospects of democracy are enhanced when opposition demands are amenable to negotiation and the sides are economically interdependent rather than being motivated by fundamentalism or nationalism. Processes of regime change that lead to state decay or collapse will reduce the prospects of democracy. There is evidence that international factors have an influence. Specifically, there is a helpful demonstration effect when contiguous neighbours and regional contexts are democratic and when the country belongs to international organizations with high democratic membership – although there are exceptions to all these findings. On the other hand, attempts to impose “democracy” from the outside by force are mostly doomed to failure. The oft heard argument about Germany and Japan fails to recognize that they had established states with homogenous populations and high levels of “modernization” (Munck 2007: 48-50, Berg-Schlosser: 18-29)). More generally, Przeworski et al. have shown, “Democracies can survive even in the poorest nations if they manage to generate development, if they reduce inequality, if the international climate is propitious, and if they have parliamentary institutions” (1996: 49). James S. Coleman (1990) provides the most coherent attempt to link the macro-, meso-, and micro-levels of analysis and include the structural, group aggregation and subjective factors in transition and consolidation. Berg-Schlosser offers an elaborated model that brings together the cultural, social, economic and political sub-systems (pp. 25-27).

In the book on Democratization, Teorell and Hadenius undertake a survey of large-N evidence on democratization from which they conclude that neither economic, societal nor international determinants trump each other unequivocally in terms of explanatory power. A mixture is required. The most important impediments are: larger countries, a large Muslim population, religious fractionalization, and dependence on oil and trade. The factors that enhance democratization are: democratic diffusion among neighbours, membership in democratic regional organizations, and peaceful popular mobilization. Socioeconomic modernization primarily works as an impediment to downturns. No imprint was found from colonial origin, other resource abundance, other religions, capital flows, inflation, and riots and strikes (p. 86).

Recent experiences tend to undermine the assumption that all democratization processes take place within the individual nation-state. Indonesia and Nigeria were examples of incomplete stateness; Columbia and Sri Lanka remain far from hegemonic; and Brazil and India are examples of the possibility that democratization might come from the periphery rather than the centre. The Solomon Islands and Fiji are other examples that practice continues to run ahead of academic analysis. Whitehead also argues that military defeat with short external imposition can provide democratization stimulus (Grenada, Panama, Haiti); as can decolonization and external defeat of authoritarian regimes (Portugal, Greece, Argentina); and internal conflicts that bring in international mediation (El Salvador, Namibia, South Africa) (Whitehead: 112-121).

Juan Linz says it is a hopeful sign that in practically all new democracies people consider the new political institutions more favourably than those existing before, regardless of their feelings about economic change and political leaders. It is misleading to believe that only the efficacy of the economic system is the base for legitimation; rather it is the belief in the democratic institutions that make possible economic and social changes in many countries (p. 137).

With regard to democratic stability, factors shown not to have much explanatory power include the old regime, the modality of transition, the sequencing of economic and political reforms, the strength of civil society and political parties and the nature of the regime (parliamentary or presidential). Among the positive influences on democratic stability are the levels of economic development and class compromises where left wing demands are moderated by an exchange for redistribution policies. Multinational states are marked by instability unless there are collaborative elites and power sharing arrangements. Neo-liberal policies help elites to accept democracy (Munck: 60-61). The subjective (agent) dimension is important for the long-term consolidation of democracy but only rarely for the early processes of democratization. The choice of the electoral system forms an important part of the constitutional crafting of new democracies as can be the creation of a federal system.

In the field of political sociology, the discourse on democracy is also “in” again, according to Eva Etzioni-Halevy. One of the key questions with regard to Western liberal democracy is how the inequality of resources affects the quality or democracy, in particular how classes and elites impede and promote democracy? Even though socio-economic inequalities still prevail they no longer align themselves on class lines. The number of class-theory inspired analyses has declined and the question arises whether, on their own, they are still of prime relevance in helping to understand democracy today.

For Etzioni-Halevy the alternative is elite theory. Early theorists saw elite power exaggerated by interlocking collusion and cohesion, but were accused of excessive cynicism. Democratic elite theorists put greater emphasis on the uniqueness of liberal democracy, even in its imperfect form, because power is constrained by competitive elections and because of the relative autonomy of elites which act as watchdogs for each other (Etzioni-Halevy 1993). Ideologically divided elites are unified by agreement on the rules of the game. Elite configurations are viewed as more variegated, complex, volatile and problematic than previously thought – although the Bush elite in the United States has been exceptionally well articulated and tightly woven to the degree it threatened acceptable behaviour and hence the elite foundations of liberal democracy in America (xx manu. 68-9). There has also been an emphasis on the fact linkages between elites and disadvantaged classes (or categories) of the public lead to a decrease of inequalities and foster democracy, while absence of such linkages has the opposite effect (xx manu. 85). ).One example of changing linkages is the rise in importance of the media elites which partly over-shadow party and parliamentary elites in the mediation process, not necessarily working in democracy’s favour (xx manu.p.74).

Interest in democracy has also been heightened by globalization, reports Etzioni-Halevy. The deficient accountability of transnational elites led to pinning hopes for democracy on transnational movements and groups but these have not been fulfilled so far. There is also increasing research on the capacity of democratic institutions, founded in the nation-state, to be transferred to transnational governing bodies, or, conversely for globalization to transform democracy.

Moving on now to the volume on Pluralism, Lowi defines the present “corporate pluralism” as the institutionalization of business’s “privileged position” where each corporation operates as its own interest group with influence in government rather than on government, a pattern which is detrimental to democracy. “The modern corporatist pluralism is “functional feudalism”, with satrapies whose share of participation in state power is close to ownership, sanitized as partnership and privatization, and legitimized as elite competition resembling the “dispersed inequalities” of the earlier market-driven and party-driven pluralism” (pp. 35-7).

In his summary, Rainer Eisfeld states, “The same issues have kept resurfacing during this overview of research on pluralism and democracy: a grossly unequal distribution of political resources; skewed power structures; a “centripetal politics” enacted – even before the advent of globalization – by a web of governmental-corporate centers proceeding in “partnership”. As a research framework for inquiring into these problems which will persist to haunt 21st century democracy, pluralism will be of continuing relevance if it reverts to the role of a “critical political theory”. It must be critical about the status quo of concentrated economic and political power (pp.56-7).

In the book on Political Sociology, Kay Lawson and Mildred Schwartz show how changes in communications, the spread of the ideals of democracy and economic globalization have had an effect of conflict displacement in parties, internet groups, and movements. Conflict displacement highlights both deep cleavages and the transient ebb and flow of political issues. It is normal for conflicts to emerge but also to change. The different sides of a conflict that is growing in importance inevitably work through parties, groups and/or movements, either by creating new ones or taking over existing ones. The growing centrality of religion-related disputes demonstrates the ability of old conflicts, once thought sidelined, to return to the fore. The list of new conflicts from human rights and the environment to immigrants and terrorism show how heavy the load is on the capacity of parties and other groups to articulate and channel dissent and to do so fairly and honestly.

While it has long been recognized that the beginnings of parties and groups with their original cleavages and elites are important indicators of their future development, it is now argued that specific activities and leadership also strongly determine the organization’s identity over time. More and more we see that individuals and groups with resources can take over parties, interest groups and movements, giving only the briefest nod to democracy. They may expend their funds within of outside the law. Group use of the tactics of violence, be it terrorism, mob hits, or guerrilla insurgencies do receive considerable academic attention but are treated as outlying groups not properly considered within the family of political organizations. The same is true of NGOs on the other side of the moral ledger which sponsor humanitarian and charitable work. Also there is little study of the use of national parties by insider groups to further private international agendas and the use by these parties of illicit tactics. Finally, another new area of study is that organizations now have functions other than those assigned to them in the traditional literature and they also perform old functions in new ways. There are entities functioning to avoid or sabotage democratic government as well as making it work. Interest groups and parties may facilitate the pursuit of power by the wealthy, the corrupt and the criminal. Movements may coerce their followers, engage in random acts of violence, and elevate their principles above civility. The political game has changed, according to Lawson and Schwartz. Players, old and new, honest and dishonest, have learned new rules.

The nature and the analysis of the state have both changed rapidly since the 1990s according to the research of Prakash Sarangi in Political Sociology. The “watchman” state and the “welfare” state have been replaced by the “competitive” state. The nation-state arising from the Peace of Westphalia was meant to be sovereign and integral. States today are less absolute in their sovereignty and independence. There is a process of deterriorialization of political space. Nationalism is no longer the sole indicator of political identity. Supra-national entities like the European Union have emerged to permit states to interfere in each others affairs. Borders have become less important not only for generating a political bond, but also for law-making, economic policy and preparedness for defence. Nevertheless, the state remains the most important site for bargaining, negotiation and ‘contract’ for meaningful collective action, both in domestic and global arenas. At the same time it is a relatively helpless spectator when identity politics fractures political life or when the global market influences domestic economies. Imports and exports have been growing faster than domestic transactions. Foreign direct investment has been growing three times as fast and trade and transnational corporate connections are growing faster. “The growing relative weight of transactions and organizational connections that cross national boundaries is the cornerstone of globalization” (Evans 1997: 65). Still, cross national statistics suggest that greater reliance on trade is also associated with an increased role for the state.

But the image of the state has been transformed. “The fiction of the state is no longer the homogenous, rule-governed Weberian hard structure, but the soft market-oriented service state that adjusts to the shifting claims of its citizens…” (Strath 2003: 184). The characteristics of such a ‘post-modern’ world according to Robert Cooper are: (1) the breaking down of distinctions between domestic and foreign affairs; (2) mutual interference in domestic affairs and mutual surveillance; (3) the rejection of force for resolving disputes; (4) the growing irrelevance of borders; and (5) security is based on transparency, mutual openness, interdependence and mutual vulnerability (2000: 22). The post-modern condition is premised on the acceptance of plurality of cultures and discourses and the consequent rise of single-issue politics. Multiculturalism has not led to the “death of the nation-state” but rather has prompted states to readjust their capacities to manage ethno-cultural differences. Every state today recognizes the importance of cultural and ethnic conflict regulation (McGarry and O’Leary 1993). On the other hand, feminists have argued that contemporary states are ‘gendered’ states (Ranchod-Nilsson and Tetreault 2000). In spite of several phases of feminist movement, gender is yet to be constructed as a central component of nationalism, culture or ethnicity, which might be the defining feature of the state system (West 1997). The information revolution adds a new and complex dimension to our rethinking of power structures. The demands generated by a bureaucratized and centralized government system led to both a neoconservative reaction and an attempt to use information and communications technologies to tame the monster. “The post-Fordist emphasis on ‘knowledge-workers’, cost reduction, efficiency, disaggregation, decentralization, and ‘flat’ hierarchies, increasingly in devolved agencies run on a ‘business-like’ manner, requires new types of systems – one that can be organized flexibly and seamlessly around interoperable standards and protocols that interface with the outside world; in short: ubiquitous, networked computing” (Chadwick 2003: 446)

Globalization has generated a new role for the state, the competition state (Cerny 2000), concludes Sarangi This might have compromised aspects of their sovereign power, defined as ‘control’, but their ‘authority’ has actually been strengthened. State apparatus has an enduring capacity to shape the direction of domestic and international politics. States compete today not for territory but for their share of the world market. The state is not only the political voice of the people but also a facilitator of means of production. Internationally the state has not been a passive bystander but has extended its sovereignty by participating in setting up new legal frameworks and legitimating new norms. The new understanding of sovereignty as the shared exercise of public power and authority has prompted some scholars to argue that there is a structural shift towards multilayered global governance. Ougaard and Higgott have announced the emergence of a global polity, defined as, “that totality of political structures, agents and processes, with transnational properties that, in the current historical context, have developed a high level of thick interconnectedness and an element of thin community that transcends the territorial state (2002: 12). The prospect of a global polity is in stark contrast to the received wisdom in realist international relations theories on the centrality of states as political actors.

Problems of Political Science: Critiques of the Discipline and Explanations of Its Development

When RC 33 talks about explanation of the state of development of the discipline, we have in mind taking the whole of political science in all its aspects as a dependent variable and then making an explicit effort to find the historical, institutional, intellectual, cultural, social, economic and international independent variables that might explain why the discipline is as it is. Finding relatively little explicit analysis of this nature in the books, it occurred to me that the statements that are made about the problems and criticisms of the state of the discipline are in themselves a step in the direction of explanation – at least as far as we have been willing to go at this point. Here are some of these statements.

Political psychologists point out that the attraction of the rational and scientific in political science was based on assumptions that research which is scientific should seek general laws which are universally applicable, and that leaders and decision-makers are rational. Many have pointed out that such “grand abstractions” are not of consistent utility in the natural sciences and certainly they have limited utility in studies of leadership and decision-making. “Political decisions and policies are based on complex and dynamic processes that must be understood with reference to context and contingencies” (Shepherd: 132, Glad 2002, Simon 1985).

There is resistance to human subjectivity generally and emotions in particular in political science going back to such ancient philosophers as Plato. Lasswell once referred to his groundbreaking book Psychopathology and Politics, as an effort that primarily sought “the sophisticating of the political science audience to the challenge of a new and evolving standpoint for the study of human nature in politics (1960: 275). Contemporary realities have forced counterterrorist policies to move beyond simple unitary actor assumptions and to deal with the mix of socialization, ideology, mind-set, self-image, and motivational profiles that describe non-state actors in specific and divergent cultures (Shepherd: 130).

Being explicitly political in scholarly research can be a double-edged sword, as there is a natural tension between wanting to make a difference and adopting an objective, analytic scientific perspective. There is no simple solution to the tension that exists between wanting to “do good” and being value neutral, as well as the perception – warranted or not – that political psychological research may be more highly biased by ideological concerns than other social science perspectives (McGraw: 34).

Sampson pointed out as long ago as 1989 that “the post-modern era’s post-industrial, information-based, and globally linked social environments will call for a dramatic change in psychological theories of the person” (p. 914). Psychologists need to locate their field in its broader social-historical, interdisciplinary contexts. Often they don’t grasp the difference between illustrating a relationship (e.g. that certain psychological variables increase or decrease between wars) and explaining an event (e.g. the entire complex of factors that led up to World War I). Psychologists often focus on statistical significance and neglect effect size or contextual relevance. Also, using only experiments can lead to mis-describing variables or even missing out variables or features of an experimental situation. They often purchase causal certainty at the price of external validity: the experiments don’t transport to the real world yet give a false sense of universalism (Winter: 122-126).

The theoretical development of our understanding of firms as political actors is still lacking according to Coen and Grant. They also claim that though knowledge of lobbying has progressed, there is a need for informational models that distinguish between strategies and institutional environments (p. 25-6). Graham Wilson abounds in this latter direction. “The greatest need of all, however, is for work that examines simultaneously both the political behaviour of business and the structural connections between business and state (p. 47). The field suffers from being under-theorized. Researchers do not concern themselves, for instance, with topics such as the degree to which capital movements constrain governments, or the degree to which the state controls business by structuring, through law, the character of corporations and the nature of markets, or the degree of power of the particular economy (p. 34).

If business plays such an important role in our capitalist political systems, why is it , Graham Wilson asks, “that there are dramatically few political scientists working on the topic of business?” His first suggestion should be of concern to all political scientists, “business executives are not accustomed to explaining themselves to the general public or to be interviewed by academics. Conducting empirical research on the topic may be more difficult…” (p. 33). Secondly, he thinks there has been a division in the field between empirical studies and theoretical thinking so there has not been many breakthroughs.

There have been as many interpretations of the concept of “development” as there are scholars, policy makers and activists, says R.B.Jain. No wonder that while there has been a tremendous proliferation of literature, in recent years there has been a paradoxical growth in dissatisfaction (p. 21). He quotes Shamsul Haque, “It is often considered practically irrelevant, conceptually Euro-centric, theoretically impoverished, ideologically prejudiced, pragmatically bankrupt and philosophically paradoxical” (Haque 1999).

Because of the constantly changing modes of analysis of development administration, Jain has found that, “The body of knowledge that emerges from these research experiences is hardly able to sustain itself over a long period of time and may not always be conducive to the development of administrative theory… Knowledge about administrative realities in developing societies has largely remained only sporadic and sparse. For one thing, the elements of prejudice and ethnocentrism that generally crept into such research have tended to make these findings parochial, localized and of limited application (p. 33).

Munck shows there are challenges to the study of democratization in the areas of measurement of the dependent variable (democracy), the integration of causal theories and their quantitative and qualitative formats, and the assessment of causal theories (p. 151-7). The root of the problems, according to Berg-Schlosser, is the enormous enlargement both in practice and in research of the field of study which adds to the difficulties of appropriate conceptualization, measurement and theorizing. Hence, the results obtained are still controversial. There are also problems with the data bases and sources of information available. The field of democratization is not alone: authors in all the volumes pleaded in favour of improved methodology, conceptualization, data and theory.

The field of local government and politics is marked by some “Western-world” bias, maybe even an Anglo-Saxon centricity, accentuated by the dominance of the English/American language as a lingua franca. (Baldersheim & Wollmann: 10).

The question of why policies and their impacts differ in local governments remains an issue to which research should return… Part of the problem of the concern of scholars for the low turnout in municipal elections is the way in which normative and empirical elements get intertwined, with the normative dispositions tending to dominate… Possibilities for engineering improvements in participation may be stuck in 19th century ideology and keep a bias for higher-status socio-economic groups and may well be flawed if imposed from above… (Goldsmith: 15-20).

Despite the efforts deployed, we are still only vaguely able to understand the contours of local policy responses to the new world of globalization, ICT, multi-culturalism, poverty, alienation and terrorism. Nor do we know the role of local government in this world or the policies that may be adequate (Baldersheim & Wollmann: 121). In part this is due to a general lack of empirical theory (Godsmith: 24).

On the whole, claim Kay Lawson and Mildred Schwartz, political sociologists have been more interested in what makes societies turn to democracy than in how successful such attempts at democratization actually are. The exporting of certain values does not guarantee even limited democracy. The contributions and failures of various types of political organizations in the rush to democratize need greater attention (xx p.3 of chap.). They also critique the discipline for ignoring the internal decision-making structures of political parties which might explain a lot of current disaffection with politics. How organizations may be structured around corruption and criminality is also ignored. Overall, the tactics of organizations receive a kind of “tri-partitioning” by political scientists as if to say some tactics are used by normal political groups, others by evil groups, and still others by idealistic do-good groups (xx pp. 57-59 in manu.).

In addition, reports Etzioni- Halevy, elite analyses of democracy pay little attention to class inequalities in democratic regimes. They have not sufficiently emphasized that, even in democratic states, those who already have the most get the most: the lion’s share generally goes to the lion, to the detriment of democracy (xx manu. P.69). also many of the analyses are disconnected from the theory of democracy and are more descriptive than theoretical. They also neglect the relationship between the elite and the public although there has been a recent increase.

Advances in Political Science

This section is more judgemental on my part as the editors and authors rarely signalled what they considered to be the significant recent (the last two decades) advances in the discipline. So I have had to “tease out” the advances from their studies.

Since World War II, political psychologists have made considerable advances in understanding and influencing the psychological bases of inter-state relations and the democratic process. They have developed sophisticated ways to measure psychological variables (traits, motives, cognitions, opinions, values etc.) both among individual world leaders and in the public at large. There are also elaborate statistical models to understand the processes of opinion formation, voting, decision-making, conflict escalation, de-escalation and negotiation (Winter: 111).

Conceptual Models

One of the major advances in business and politics, both in practice and analysis, has been conceptual innovation concerning issue sub-systems and policy networks. Exchange of resources models are emphasized over traditional hierarchical, command-oriented processes. Networks can be conceived as a specific form of governance and direct action by companies can be traced across different countries and sectors. Explanatory models can demonstrate structural features of networks which cause certain kinds of policy outcomes. There is now a considerable body of empirical material on a variety of forms of these business-government interactions (Coen and Grant: 26-7, Schneider).

A new paradigm has begun to emerge in the study of development administration, generally described as “good governance” which has gone beyond the traditional Weberian bureaucratic model to take into account newer concepts such as New Public Management, human resource management, and expanded models of governance, even if current models are a bit naïve. (Jain: 7).

In his chapter in the book on Political Sociology, Dirk Berg-Schlosser introduces a dense, multi-level systems analysis of the concept of political culture. He recalls that political culture is a concept referring to the macro-level of society which, however, in the behavioralist Almond/Verba tradition is usually only assessed by survey research at the micro level. For example, expressions of a sense of patriotism and the use of the flag and the national anthem differ markedly between the United States and Germany and can only be fully understood if the representative national “macro”-histories and, in particular, the traumatic German one are taken into account.. Conversely, the use of such symbols and their relative level of perception and acceptance can only be assessed by quantifiable methods.

For bringing these levels and their interactions into a coherent framework, Berg-Schlosser turns to the general model of explanation in social science, as it has been proposed by James Coleman (1990) and further developed by Hartmut Esser (1993, 2001)(see Figure 1).

Figure: Levels of Analysis

Levels of Analysis

Source: Berg-Schlosser, Adapted from Coleman (1990) and Esser (2001).

Berg-Schlosser explains: this model links the initial social situation at the macro-level (upper left-hand side) including its historical, social structural, etc. conditions to the micro-level of subjective perceptions, expectations, interests, preferences, values etc. (lower left-hand side) and the resulting individual actions (lower right-hand side). In order to become politically relevant, these actions must be aggregated in different forms at the “meso”-level (right-hand side in the middle) to affect the actual political decision-making and its consequences again at the macro-level (upper right-hand side). This, of course, must be seen in a dynamic sense with various feed-back mechanisms which produce changes in the course of time, but also within the context of the international and nowadays “global” system with its continuous interactions (for such a dynamic system model in political science see Easton 1953, 1965).

He maintains that with the help of this model some of the major fallacies and deficiencies of past approaches can again be made evident. Orthodox Marxists, for example, would draw their conclusions directly from the macro- (social structural) level on the left-hand side to the macro-(political) level on the right-hand side without taking into account the subjective perceptions and actual “consciousness” of the most relevant social classes at the micro-level and the problems of their aggregation and acting together at the meso-level. Similarly, a purely semiotic analysis of some symbols and rituals at the macro-level is not able to assess their perception and impact at the micro-level (where, for example, a certain cynicism concerning official rituals as in some of the former socialist countries may prevail). A social anthropological “thick description” usually obtained by “participant observation” in small communities or groups, is subject to similar limitations. Even though the meaning of certain symbols and actions may be better “understood” (“Verstehen” in Weber’s sense), it remains difficult to generalise from the point of view of a particular observer and from a small group or village to the overall society.

The limitations of a pure “rational choice” approach on the micro-level also become evident. Neither the social and historical context (upper left-hand side) nor the problem of meaningfully aggregating individual preferences on a large scale at the meso-level (middle right) are adequately taken into account by simple utility maximising assumptions of “homo oeconomicus” or the strict observation of social roles and norms by “homo sociologicus”. For this reason, Hartmut Esser has proposed to conceive of socially integrated and active human beings as “restricted, resourceful, evaluating, expecting, maximising men” (RREEMM) and, of course, women. In this way, the restrictions and resources depending on the macro-level (upper left-hand side), but also cultural factors and traditions (“expecting and evaluating”) come into play.

In the most recent variant, Esser has further supplemented this model by the concept of “framing”. This is derived from cognitive psychology where the observation of a certain object (e.g. a certain material symbol like a flag) must fit into the “frame” of a known or anticipated situation in order to be able to interpret it and to act accordingly. The subsequent action then follows a certain routinized and often unconscious “script” which has been “programmed” by the socialising experiences of a particular group or society.

Three recent examples of political culture studies have had considerable impact. Up-dating the concept of modernization with a general theory of human development, Welzel/Inglehart/Klingemann (2003) conclude that “socio-economic development, changing values, and democratization constitute a coherent syndrome of social progress.” While historical methods can be criticized for overlooking changes and making explanations unfalsifiable, Robert Putnam’s (1993) analysis of the deep historical dimensions of the political culture of civic traditions in Italy suggests that the resulting “social capital” can continually reproduce itself – as indeed have been Putnam’s study. Huntington (1993, 1996) has proposed that the major international cleavage of our day is between culturally (mainly religious traditions) defined “civilizations”, a notion which contrasts with growing international regimes (e.g. the Criminal Court, human rights) and increasingly universal perceptions of democracy and good governance. Each of these approaches might have been enhanced by an empirical analysis using the above multi-level model of how states prepare the macro pre-conditions that vary political cultures which then can only play a role if they are perceived as such at the individual micro-level and then aggregated at the meso-level in order to have political macro-effects.

Information Sources

Democratization studies in the behavioralist tradition have extended to other parts of the world with the “New Democracies Barometers (e.g. Latinobarametro, Afrobarometer) and three waves World Values Surveys (e.g. Inglehart 1997) and the panels of the Political Action Study (e.g. Jennings and van Deth 1990) (see Berg-Schlosser: 21). There have also been frequent attempts to measure the “democraticness” of political systems using quantitative indicators. Some of the best known are Tatu Vanhanen’s “Index of Democracy”, Ted Gurr & associates data set on institutionalized dimensions of democracy (some data going back to 1800); and the Freedom House study of political right and civil liberties. Taken together they correlate quite well (less so for the newest democracies). Two newer sources are the “good governance” indicators of the World Bank and Bertelmann Transformation Index which assesses the political and economic transformation of 116 states. Common problems include sources of information, judgemental data, problems of aggregation, distances between scoring points and thresholds between democratic and non-democratic systems (Berg-Schlosser: 37) The Panorama Centroamericano, Reporto Politico, a regular Newsletter gives an excellent account of the difficulties in building democracies in Central America. All in all, we have a clearer perception and much broader and varied empirical evidence on the process of democratization.

Several authors have proposed a “democratic audit” of the quality of democracy in which they examine major aspects including: free and fair elections, open, accountable and responsive government, civil and political rights, and democratic society. Recent models suggest almost an “ideal type” against which one may judge current democracies (Berg-Schlosser: 38-9).

Political Processes and Action

Eisenberg points to “The illusion in American democratic theory, for which post-war pluralism is partly responsible, that democracy is constituted by voluntary associations, meant that all the ways in which associations are not voluntary or could not be voluntary were thereby outside the realm of mainstream democratic politics if not somewhat hostile to the value of democracy. Moreover, the impression advanced, in part, by pluralism’s critics, that post-war pluralist theories have little if anything to do with thinking about the role that cultural, religious, or linguistic groups play in democracy is mistaken. To conceive all groups as voluntary associations, even when many are not … is a way of thinking about and managing groups in democracy and one that continues to obscure many of the questions central to democratic theory about diverse societies today” (Eisenberg: 78-9).

“Pluralism is plastic, says Philip Cerny The number, character, and configuration of groups changes shape and modus operandi depending on the configuration of rewards and penalties, constraints and opportunities characterizing the predominant playing field, that is the institutions, processes and practices that have been called the “structured field of action”.

At the same time, actors nonetheless have a certain both manifest and potential strategic as well as tactical autonomy in seeking to modify, tinker with, or fundamentally alter the playing field. The changing constellation of actors in a globalizing world plus the increasing complexity of the structured field of action creates opportunities for reactively and/or proactively that playing field itself as particular problems and issues are confronted in practice at all three levels – micro, meso and macro. This process not only gives political entrepreneurs more scope for action but also creates openings and spaces within which institutional entrepreneurs are likely to attempt strategic restructuring. In a globalizing world, some get more than others, while new patterns of rewards and penalties etc. lead to attempts to innovate in patterns of coalition-building, competition and conflict… At the same time, opportunities for shaping change today are unprecedented because of the complexity of the institutional structure of a globalizing world added to the internationalization, transnationalization, and translocalization of networks and webs of governance and the uneven pluralisation of the group universe itself… Globalisation is increasingly what actors make of it … (pp. 109-10).

Proposals for Improvements in Political Science circa 2008

One of the defining elements of political psychology is the desire to make a difference in solving social and political problems by making concrete policy recommendations. But it is rather unique in the overall discipline of political science. Certainly, research that improves societal welfare is more highly regarded by elected representatives and media pundits, and so it is an important criterion used in the broad distribution of research dollars. We need an on-going discussion of the public value of political science research (Mcgraw: 33).

There must be a synthesis between positive political (rational choice) theory and behavioural approaches to judgement and decision-making, There must be acceptance of a formal approach, training in modeling and, most important, expertise in cognitive psychological principles, as well as the varied motivations (beyond self-interest) that characterize the human condition (McGraw: 35).

David Winter make suggestions that will help political psychology and political science adapt to globalization. We need to be pluralistic, synthetic and critical. In addition to experimentation, alternative methodologies should be adopted such as observation, quasi-experiments, archival exploration, ethnography and use of case studies as in professional schools. We should pay more attention to historians who can help us bring out “unspoken assumptions”, remind us that our “raw data” has actually been shaped by processes of recording, point out the importance of “accidental factors”, give us perspective and protect us against assuming false “causal uniqueness”. To bridge disciplines, we can cross-list courses, team teach, encourage senior faculty to “take risks”, and promote interdisciplinary conferences and “theme semesters”. The creativity of graduate training can be enhanced by deliberate “cross-training” procedures including exposure to diversifying and challenging experiences, taking courses in other fields and foreign universities, and having extra-departmental members on dissertation committees. “Our best work is likely to come from the broadest range of sources and inspiration”. This will include knowledge and perspective of history, psychological forces, political and social structures, intuition, scientific method, and statistics. (pp. 124-127). Such perspective will help us deal better with the globalisation agenda of understanding the striving for power, the construction of difference, and going beyond power and difference.

Baldersheim and Woolmann propose an eight step plan for improved research in the field of local politics, based on there idea of an approach that combines problem solving and scientific solidity. “Propinquity” (closeness to the people) makes for relevance in the field of local governance, while “numerosity” and variation make it a natural laboratory for comparative study (John 2006). To improve its capacity, research on local politics should: pay closer attention to the local contexts that explain variation; cover more countries especially in the third world to understand how change is shaped and identifying strategies for dealing with it; do more mapping and analysing of cultural factors such as attitudes toward power and cooperation; recognize the significance of identity issues; pick up again on the study of the influence of institutional choices on policy orientations; undertake joint programs to study the “linkages and carriers” of globalization; focus on the processes of learning and adaptation in international fora; create a reflective framework to study ethical issues and a code of conduct for research in the pursuit of “good ends” that does not compromise scholarly standards (pp. 124-128).

In the field of democratization, the actual causal links and their dynamics and the subsequent feedback loops must be analysed more closely with better information and data but also clearer conceptual and theoretical tools. Stronger weight needs to be given to international factors. Also large-n and small-n analysis needs to be integrated into the same research program (Berg-Schlosser). According to Laurence Whitehead, “9/11” was a watershed and we need to study prospects for democracy in a differentiated manner that provides a better balance between analytical rigour and political relevance. We need categories and concepts that are adaptable – although the dangers of concept stretching are all too apparent. If we are to generate explanatory statements we will have to simplify, streamline and model our hypotheses independently from the evidence, as long as they are falsifiable. There is still room for considerable humility in our field (pp. 129-130).

One of our problems, says Dirk Berg-Schlosser, is that it is usual in our discipline to treat each changing emphasis with a dose of intensive criticism and alternative perceptions and proposals. If each practitioner is more aware of his/her place in the overall field, the varying approaches can increasingly supplement each other rather than being constantly attacked by opposing camps (Pol. Soc. 40, 45).

He goes on to propose a more complex conceptualization of the specific linkages in the multi-level model of political culture and a both quantifiable and qualitative “Rokkanian” social-structural mapping of the regions of the world.

Kliksberg visualizes the emergence of an ‘intelligent, social state’, with a socio-managerial approach to problem solving. The additional directions it may take are: “a clear orientation toward basic public services for everyone; the creation of a strong and efficient institutional framework; the establishment of an information system to design and monitor social policies; inter-organizational links; decentralization; broad community participation; inter-social networks, transparency and social managerial approach” (2001:25) Michael Keating explores “the possibilities for a ‘plurinational’ and ‘post-sovereignty’ political order in which nationality in all its complexity is recognized and in which sovereignty is shared” (2001: ix). For McGrew, “A power shift is underway as political power is diffused above, below and alongside the state. A new kind of state is slowly emerging and, with it, a new public philosophy of governance, which recognizes the changing global context of political action. The command and control state of the Westphalian ideal is being displaced by the reflexive or network state. The reflexive state seeks to reconstitute its power at the intersection of global, regional, transnational and local systems of rule and governance” (2000: 163-4)

Jan van Deth emphasizes the opportunities in political sociology for comparative analysis, longitudinal studies, multilevel modelling and meta-analyses along with improved research designs. Deth also focused on new objects of analysis concerning the changing power of the state including: more attention to evolving processes of identity in modern societies; a reassessment of the functions of the associations in civil society and their role in democracy; the end of state-centred approaches to recognize the relevance of other actors and their new relationships with the state; recognizing the end of the demarcation between political sociology and international relations to study differential state power; the impact of the changing nature of the territorial state on the development of democracy nationally and internationally, in particular the guarantee of civil and social rights and the social conditions for democratic rule; the impact of globalization on the capacity for collective social action; and the influence of new communications and transportation technologies on the positions of individuals and groups (xx manu. 116-20).

Even bad democracies are better than authoritarian rule or chaos, says Juan Linz. But in the future we will be better served by being able to distinguish more clearly if a country satisfies the basic criteria of democracy. We must also clarify what democracies can and cannot do to avoid disenchantment (pp.136-7).

I cannot close this section on democratization without summarizing the thoughts on democracy offered by Juan Linz that are almost like a Politics 101 course on his accumulated wisdom.

  • In Asia and the Islamic world the masses seem to be strongly attached to their religious traditions, which provide a cultural identity in relation to an encroaching West… Therefore, we have to think of alternatives involving a constructive cooperation between religion and democracy that also protects religious freedom for minorities and rights of the non-religious… In the first half of the last century, democrats developed institutions and policies that channelled, bridged and moderated class conflict. Democrats today will have to think about institutions and policies to deal with religious conflicts within a liberal and democratic framework.
  • We should not expect new democracies to be like the old, established democracies. They are appearing in a different historical, social and cultural context. New political parties are not likely to have mass memberships, rather they’ll have floating voters with more “exits” and “voice” and weaker “loyalties”. The question will be the degree of loyalty that is required by parties. Freedom from a socially constraining climate may allow people to respond more readily to change. We must not confuse change in the way democracies work with a lack of consolidation or quality.
  • Candidates with ambition, financial resources, or popularity they have gained outside politics, combined with television, will be able to appeal to voters without having any experience in politics. This can open the door to demagogues but it leaves open the question to what degree we want professional, career politicians or amateurs with a passing interest and perhaps a single issue?
  • The positive aspects of democracy deserve to be emphasized: reduction of political violence, basic civil liberties, temporal limits to power, possibility of accountability, a margin of tolerance for government failure – are all contributions to a better society.
  • One of the great requirements of a functioning democracy is the quality of political personnel and leadership. They should have politics as a vocation and values relevant to the collectivity, while forsaking corrupt power for personal ends and illegal violence.
  • The style of political discourse is also likely to affect the quality of democracy. Aggressiveness and lack of respect for adversaries, appeals to prejudices and hatred, demagoguery, deception and populist outbidding will have destructive effects on public opinion – although tolerable levels are difficult to define. Moderate, prestigious leaders must publicly dissociate themselves from such practices when they appear.
  • Ambivalence about parties and politicians, even without anti-democratic destructiveness can arrive when people hold contradictory conceptions or expectations about democracy such as: distrust of party squabbling vs. slavishly following the party line; experienced vs. professional politicians; promoting special interests – that are not our own; feeling that any other form of activity is incompatible with a political mandate.
  • The quality of political culture is significant for democracy. Disinterest and condoning negative political characteristics are equally bad whereas participation and contestation are equally important. The style of democratic politics is largely determined by the style of opposition. Beyond a hegemonic party or a fractioned opposition is the middle ground of a limited, moderate, multiparty system with responsible parties offering real choices.
  • Without a reasonably functioning state (defined territory and citizenship, monopoly of legitimate violence, public administration, police, judiciary, and basic freedoms as a minimum) democracy is not possible. No state, no democracy.
  • The fight against terrorism may lead a democratic electorate or its leaders to support policies that threaten liberal-democratic values.
  • A problem for current democracies is the weakening of support for collective institutions – parties, parliaments, cabinets – that goes with the personalization of politics.
  • Another real problem is that today’s elected politicians and leaders often see their major role as being responsive to public opinion. If this leads to responsiveness rather than responsibility, leadership, decision-making and educating the electorate, then we may be in for plebiscitarian legitimation rather than representative democracy.

In short, while we may be critical of ourselves, we have made advances and our discipline does indeed have many wise things to say to the public. After a decade of self-assured, perfectionist thinking that has led to truly horrific misinformation and mismanagement of world affairs, there is a wide spread desire in the public for humble, knowledge-based wisdom about the politically possible. One of the questions political scientists have to ask themselves is whether they have the desire or the communications ability to tell others what they know?

Conclusions I:

What are the common threads that can we take from the first six books of the World of Political Science Book Series?

Orientations and Trends

1. Despite its qualities of generality and parsimony, rational choice theory was shown to be of limited value unless incorporated in a broader analytical framework which incorporates more descriptive realism. Assumptions of rationality, full information and utility maximization are unrealistic and over-simplified.

2. There is a call for greater relevance in research and more empirical theory and data.

3. It is felt that the subjective, the individual as actor and agent, needs to be reintegrated in political science. This would include more attention to culture, identity, personality and human nature. At the same time, agents must be integrated in their institutional contexts to analyse the contextual influence on behaviour in, for instance, public administration, elections and democratization processes.

4. Research should pay more attention to multiple variables, multiple levels and multiple systems of influence on politics. Mention was made of the micro, meso and macro levels of analysis and the incorporation of influences not only from the economic, cultural and social sub-systems but from history and the international system.

5. There has been a reinforcement of the resources and power of business and its privileged position and a corresponding increase in economic, social and political inequality.

5. Good governance is unlikely to be achieved by itself without economic development, private sector support, and reduction of entrenched interests. As presently conceived the concept is ideological and naïve.

Problems, Criticism and Explanation

1. Many of the calls for improvements in the previous section on Orientations have been reconfirmed as problems of the discipline.

2. We must acknowledge there are continuing tensions between objective and normative approaches, scientific and political orientations, value neutrality and “doing good”, and causal certainty versus external validity and that there are no simple solutions to these tensions. They will require our deep and abiding attention.

3. There is a generalized lack of theoretical development and conceptual clarity.

4. Political science still appears to be Western dominated.

5. Rapid global changes have lessened our understanding of current politics and our consequent relevance.


1. All books have stressed the considerable growth of political science around the world (but not covering the world) and its great advances as regards comparative research, research techniques and information sources.

2. We now have many more elaborate statistical models to understand voting, decision-making, conflict and negotiation.

3. One of the major breakthroughs has been in the study of policy networks where we also have more empirical materials and explanatory models.

4. There are now a considerable number of behavioural measurements and empirical evidence in the form of data sets, information banks, values surveys, barometers, indicators, audits, newsletters and websites – especially on democracy but elsewhere too.

5. There is a new understanding of our need for improved methods and theories to cover “identity groups”.

6. We have a new appreciation of the multiple roles and impacts of globalization, including its complexity and multi-level, multi-actor openness to influence.

Conclusions 2:
Issues, Trends and Perspectives 2065

As a second conclusion, I want to go back to the original questions for this essay: what are the issues, trends and perspectives for political science. To answer these seemingly straight forward but very difficult questions, we must start by referring to the global society that is the subject of political science studies. Another commonality of all six books including local government is that, to one degree or another, they all stress the impact of the end of the Cold War, 9/11 and globalization on our global society and of the significant influence it is likely to have on the political science agenda. As Lawson and Schwartz put it in Political Sociology , “Political organizations have changed in response to change, and we who study them are being forced to follow along struggling to let go of creeds outworn, endeavouring to understand why so may once self-evident maxims no longer ring true, and working hard to find the words for thoughts and observations never thought or seen before.”(xx,p1of chapter))

In looking to the future, we need to select a time period and we need techniques for our analysis. Among the tools used by futurologists in their analysis are the concepts of ‘trends’ and “scenarios”. They can be very useful, but they have their limits. Often they can only be used in the short term because trends have a nasty habit of folding in on themselves and halting or reversing their tendency once they become too strong or dominant. The desire for a change of political parties in government would be one well known example. Another problem with linear projections is the phenomenon of unexpected events that upset historical patterns. One other technique we might use is analogy. We can analyse known changes in the recent past and ask ourselves about the likelihood of these continuing in the future – always being careful not to follow into the trap of linear projections.

As regards a time frame, I use the time from 1945 to 2005 as my analogous period for comparing with the next 60 years to 2065. Because it was the morning after the calamitous Second World War it is convenient since many memories start at that time, much is known about the epoch, and it is recent enough for many people to recall. Of course, it is also convenient because I studied change in this period for my recent book on Modernizing the United Nations. Also, because the time frame is long enough it permits us to envisage momentous changes, while it is short enough for us to mentally grasp. Of course, I did wonder to myself if I should not be thinking, as we often do, in 50 year blocks of time. While not having the conveniences just mentioned, such thoughts did have a salubrious effect. By thinking of the things that have happened in the past 10 years since 1995 – the American invasion of Iraq, NATO in Afghanistan, 9-11 and terrorism, the ubiquitous mobile phone and Blackberries, the rise of China and India etc. – all serve to remind us of the impact of the unknowable (even the unthinkable) and the fallibility of limiting our forecasting to trends. It acts as a reminder for us to be judicious about predicting the future and think in terms of possibilities rather than certainties for which political science should prepare.

But let us start with what is already certain. The world will have to prepare for several billion more people, mostly in the global south, thus increasing the population imbalance between continents and competition for food, water and resources. A recent report to the European Union warns it faces enormous migrations from its southern neighbours because climate change will put stress on food and water supplies, provoke natural disasters and undermine political stability in poorer countries. The population in the North continues to age, bringing potential frictions between a smaller working force and a growing older generation. Global warming will happen bringing with it migrations, climatic change, inundated ocean fronts and a Northern shipping passage and economic zone over which countries are already casting acquisitive eyes. Continued over-exploitation of our environment leads to natural disasters, extinct species, and loss of forests, fisheries and coral beds while we still manage to spend a trillion dollars a year on military machines. There also seems to be no end to national governments being challenged by regional and cultural groupings. “Ethno-nationalism is here to stay” states an article in the latest issue of Foreign Policy.

Still other major modifications of the past sixty-five years are likely to remain with us, whether or not they increase. Decolonization shot up the number of countries from around 50 in 1945 to 192 at present. Democracy took wing. Freedom House found that in 1950 there were 22 democracies accounting for 31 percent of the world’s population. By 2000 there were 120 democracies constituting 62.5 percent of the world’s people (Schlesinger 2003: 287). Two super powers and a Cold War were replaced for ten minutes in global time by a single hyper-power which is currently being replaced by a multipolar world system. Globalization means “the increasing volume and speed of flows between countries of capital and goods, information and ideas, people and forces that connect actors” (Keohane 2002:194). It has been fomented by leaps in transportation and communications technology so that socio-economic transformations have far out-distanced the adaptive capacities of politics and institutions. But according to Jeffrey Sachs, technology also causes another level of problem. It reinforces the wealth and culture gaps, because 15 percent of the world’s populations innovates nearly all the world’s technology – and this appears to be a self-reinforcing trend. Globalization ensures that today neither political challenges nor human compassion are bounded by national borders. What used to be national problems have become global challenges – climate change, global warming, pollution, genocide, pandemics, terrorism, international crime, failed states, financial crises, welfare, and weapons of mass destruction on the lose – the list is endless (see also Winters). No state or group of states, no matter how powerful, is capable of combating these scourges. They demand collective efforts. But the multilateralism that was created after World War II has slowly been eroded by a return to national self-interest. Even so, whether governments like it or not, the concept of sovereignty is being transformed before our eyes – witness the UN resolution on the “responsibility to protect”.

Institutional changes have also taken place since 1945. The world gave itself embryonic international organizations. Embryonic in the sense of having “A central place to assemble, raise a common budget, empower international actions and a world secretariat to coordinate needs and requests” (Kennedy 2006: 286) but limited in its capacities by the national interests of its member states and the veto of its most powerful. Still since 1945 there has not been a nuclear war and only five annexations (two reversed) and the international community has learned the art not only of peacekeeping but of peacemaking. There are continuous demands for reform of the UN. Nevertheless, in reality international relations have been replaced by global politics. Symbolic of global politics is our new triple security issue including not only national security but also human and global and human security concerns. World politics are no longer simply the affairs of states. In fact it is no longer just about politics – but equally about business and finance, religion, ideology, poverty, health, the environment, culture and even water. Global politics include many types of influential actors – national, sub-national, trans-national, trans-state, regional, intergovernmental, non-governmental, corporations, unions, churches, sports, and even academics – and this is only to name the legal ones. Then there is the multitude of new spaces for international power flexing in complex, multi-level, multi-regional locales and forums for negotiations and diplomacy which Phillip Cerny has dubbed “multi-nodal politics” in his article in the volume on Pluralism (Cerny 2006: 108).

Finally, these changes have created another series of situations. International wars have given away to civil wars and failed states although there appears to have been a decline in the number of wars and war-related deaths. Thanks to globalization the world now has a highly integrated economy and we are now not only interdependent (financial crises and pandemics respect no borders) but also mutually vulnerable. Post-war trends in communism, socialism and welfare states have been replaced by the neo-liberal ideology with its emphasis on free trade, less government and more market, deregulation and privatization ensconced in the “Washington Consensus” for “structural adjustment” of developing countries. Taken together these trends have engendered a growing wealth gap in and between countries. To take but one example, a century ago, the average person in the richest country was only nine times richer than the average person in the poorest country. Now the disparity is 60 to one (Birdsall 1998). One of the major exceptions is the development of China and India where there is both growth and growing disparities and growing pollution. Partly because of poverty, religion has once again come to the fore and fundamentalism is a world phenomenon with attendant risks of a “war of civilizations”. This is symbolized by both the war in Iraq and the increase in the threats of terrorism (as we painfully see in any airport. Will Iraq end in federalism or failed states and what will happen to power balances in the Middle East and its relationships with the world?

In the volume on Political Psychology, David Winter shows that threats or devaluation of identities (people’s sense of congruence between inner reality and a valued outer “actuality”) become a seedbed for the rise of charismatic leaders. It is not surprising that people in the Middle East listen to voices telling them the old Islamic ways were best. In response to confusion, anonymity, and the loss of meaning from globalization, many people seek refuge in a renewed commitment to “place consciousness” in the bounded world of the familiar giving rise to nationalism, jihad and violent reaction to “others” in an attempt to restore community, identity, family and values (p. 120). Laurence Whitehead claims with regard to Democratization research that the rapid changes of 1989 and 2001 held some nasty surprises that have not stopped forcing us to question our research (pp.112-13).

This summary of some of the recent changes in global society serves to bring me to one major conclusion: the absolutely enormous scope of issues confronting modern society and, by extension, political science. Without even pretending to make any specific projections into the future, one can safely claim that at present there is no end in sight for terrorism, weapons of mass destruction, demographic augmentation, increasing wealth gap, environmental depredation, military spending, technological innovation, power dispersion, religious and nationalist confrontations, market extremism, global warming, genocide and financial crises. It was bad enough when political science had to cope mainly with national politics. Now the world is our oyster. In the mid-1980s, Carl Deutsch wrote a seminal article about the explosion in material political scientists had to cope with since World War II (Andrews 1985). The explosion has gone on a-pace. Now the scope of issues with which we must deal is being augmented by the simultaneous demands that we include human values, interdisciplinarity, a global vision, and the courage to interact with policy makers.

What is the current perspective that political scientists will be able to deal with these challenges? From my experience they are not very good. As one indicator, it seems to me that there is currently a disconnect between politics and political science. We are not listening to politicians and the media and they do not listen to us. We generally do not invite them to our meetings and they generally do not invite us to their offices and studios. There is relatively little cross-fertilization. And I wonder if our discipline of political science isn’t the main culprit? I realize that as a former IPSA secretary general this makes me a bit of a heretic. But, I would like to suggest – no, that is too strong – I want to raise the question whether the current techniques of political science do not inhibit us from dealing as well as we might with the dimensions of our global challenges?

So, I would like to pose a number of questions to the discipline.

Disciplinarity: To start, does the notion of being a discipline cut us off from fields of knowledge that are essential to our research and make our work too narrow? Do we not all know that the issues with which politics deals are by their very nature interdisciplinary? The political psychologists were very firm about this in their volume as I presume will be the political sociologists and the political biologists, to say nothing of geopolitics and political philosophy. But we tend to hive off political philosophy, international relations and comparative studies to the furthest little corners of our departments. As it is said, out of sight, out of mind. The very structures and norms of our discipline tend to shed interdisciplinarity in our departments, courses and journals. But disciplinarity can also conflict with relevance. As Laurence Whitehead say in the book on Democratization , Guillermo O’Donnell’s work on “delegative democracy” “is a prime example of scholarship inspired by the turmoil of learned experience, rather than constrained by orthodox disciplinarity” (p. 131).

The trend toward isolated disciplinarity has gone so far that international relations and public administration practitioners have decided to form their own professional associations and, often, departments. Also, political philosophers rarely feel at home in departments of political science. We know the phenomenon has come full circle when you hear both international studies professors and political scientists thinking and acting as though politics ends at national boundaries!

Scientific: Is the scientific method too constraining for the study of politics? As long as science meant searching for the most rigorous, viable and verifiable means to knowledge it was an aid to the study of politics. But when it became pure methodologism, computers and quantification does it not constrain the diversity that is politics and government? How many times do we see a research project in which the reliability of the analysis is offset by a desire to restrict the number of independent variables? Is not explanatory richness often sacrificed to methodological parsimony in our work? In the book on Political Psychology there is a fascinating article on computational and experimental (i.e. laboratory) and data set approaches to the study of foreign policy decision-making. While quite positive about the benefits of the studies, Sylvan and Strathman nevertheless also note that these models “tend to be labour intensive, not parsimonious, do not generalize easily, are domain specific as they depend on background knowledge of belief structure, do not directly address “real world” political concerns but rather engage in academic discourse, do not attempt to explain the outcomes of specific decisions, disappoint those who seek “policy relevance”,

could include a more thoughtful public in future analysis, requires a thorough and expansive coding system with a dictionary for each region, largely a-theoretical, remains inductive and unable to distinguish causes, and cannot specifically predict strategies or behaviours within political situations. After such a litany can we expect politicians to listen to us or pay for our work?

But the problem for political scientists is deep. Turning to Whitehead again, “Both academic rigour and contemporary relevance are appropriate criteria for evaluating scholarship, but the material we have to work with generates a considerable tension between them” (p. 112). He claims the retreat into rigour has its proc and cons as does the advance toward relevance. Our field really matters to a larger community and even provisional and approximate illumination may be better than raw scientific study. These issues may be difficult to handle within the self-denying framework for an insistence on ‘normal science’ standards of validation, not least because of their normative connotation, but there is an untapped demand for them to be addressed. Nevertheless, relevance can lead to such a multiplicity of themes that it will be difficult to capture the underlying realities. Not only can the advance toward relevance be unparsimonious and open-ended but they come at the expense of theoretical coherence. My conclusion, as well as that of Whitehead is that we cannot afford to continue to simply note these problems without trying to deal with them. “The main question arising from this chapter,” he states, “is how to proceed so that detachment and explanatory power can be maximized without blocking off… the flux of world political developments” (p. 132).

Empiricism: Have we not all been brought up in our graduate studies to recognize that strict adherence to empiricism can lead to conservative conclusions? Empirical research only deals with what exists and what is going on. It does not include what could be or what should be. Results therefore tend to have a built-in conservative bias, unless the research is structured to overcome it. A second problem is that some political scientists are now confounding empirical with experimentation, laboratory analysis and simulation.

Value neutrality: Is it possible to explain political behaviour, policies or goals without taking into account human values? Have we misconstrued Plato’s advice that reason should rule over spirit and emotion to mean that we can separate the emotions and passions that partially underlie our values from our study of politics? Or rather should we not follow Robert Lane’s recent example and inquire whether democracies can “facilitate cognitive development and emotional maturity (2002: 382)? Linda Shepherd is even blunter, “The attempt to define the interplay between politics, morality, philosophy, and human nature can certainly animate a research agenda (2006: 133).

Tentativeness: Do we not teach our students to be very tentative about the results of their research and does this not stop us from taking the “leaps of faith” that might allow us to make contributions to the types of decisions that are necessary in complex and turbulent times? Recently I commented on a young lady’s excellent piece of empirical research that demonstrated conclusively that international organizations were highly relevant because they, and not governments, were responsible for more than 80 percent of treaties and conventions. And yet her conclusions were framed in the sense of “suggestions” that “perhaps” a “relatively” large number solutions to international problems came from the much defamed international organizations. She confirmed to me that she was taught to be very hesitant and nuanced about her conclusions for fear of making “mistakes”. I do not think this was an isolated case.

All of this leads to the question: do our political science research methods not lead us to results that are too narrow, irrelevant and tentative to be taken seriously by those who should be consuming our product?

Now it may well be that changes are already taking place in political science. For instance there is a considerable move to international studies. The International Studies Association has gone from 500 attendees to around 5,000. I am told that there 1,100 sessions outnumber those of the American Political Science Association. As regards disciplinarity, the University of Ottawa has just reverted from “political science” to “political studies” and has opened a new graduate school on “public and international affairs” which has already demonstrated extraordinary relevance to current global affairs. In the IPSA’s research committees we have burgeoning groups dealing with psychology, sociology, geography, biology, religion, and power. There is a new world association of international studies. Europe has lead the way with student exchanges and inter-state graduate and research programs. Several countries are undertaking evaluations of their disciplines. In addition, some scholars are re-evaluating the discipline. In a recent volume (Shapiro et al. 2004) on Problems and Methods in the Study of Political Science, political science is portrayed as a battlefield of highly disparate agendas worshipping conflicting ideals of scientific endeavour. The main conflict is between problem-driven research versus champions of methods- and theory-driven studies. Real world relevance and eclectic methods confront analytical rigour, explanatory elegance, and the goal of a unified science. In the volume, Robert Dahl et al. opt for seeking “to help achieve good ends” over the goal of a unified science (pp. 378-81). Baldersheim and Wollmann go on to elaborate an alternative way that combines problem and theory orientation and is a sort of return to Harold Lasswell’s famous program for “policy sciences” that are both scientifically sound and of practical relevance (Lasswell 1951).

All of this leads me to my second conclusion. Of course, I am not suggesting we throw out the baby with the bath water. The scientific method has been very good to us. It has helped us to think in a structured, rigorous, empirical and verifiable manner. It has helped us to think about rigorous knowledge. What I am suggesting are two things. First, all of us know that the scientific method can only help us come to conclusions in certain parts of our subject matter, essentially those domains that can be quantified. There are many other domains – philosophy, law, governance, democracy, nationalism, religion, morality, equity, values, goals, constitutions etc. etc. – that the scientific method can only help us with marginally. So, what I wonder is if we do not need a new form of analysis that allows us to deal rigorously with all the enormous issues that confront us in the 21st century. For a time I wondered if this was not the voice of one crying in the wilderness? But this is not so. O.P. Dwivedi proclaims, “My view is that the new century demands a new thinking to face the greatest dilemma before humanity: how come a small group of nations keep on “progressing” while the majority remains poor and deprived? (2007:184). Nor are we alone! Juan Linz, one of the greats of the discipline, states, “The task ahead is gigantic and a few cross-national surveys are far from sufficient for our needs.” (2007:145). And Geraldo Munck adds, “Indeed, the future development of the research agenda on democratic transitions is likely to hinge on the ability of scholars to tackle some broad and fundamental challenges.” (2007: 51). Others are chiming in. The Harvard/Oxford historian, Niall Ferguson has pronounced Philip Bobbit’s new book, Terror and Consent, a must read of foreign policy. Bobbit asserts, “Only a root-and-branch rethinking will equip us to deal with the problems posed by “the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, mass terrorist atrocities, and humanitarian crises that bring about or are brought about by terror.” (International Herald Tribune 08/04/12). It is the need for “root-and-branch rethinking” that political scientists should be taking to heart.

Second, I also wonder if a too narrow focus on things political does not tend to eliminate precisely those many independent variables that help us to explain the political. As Parsons and Easton taught us, we have to develop methods that include the social, the economic, the psychological, the philosophical, and the international – not just one of these, but all of them in an integral manner.

I am not sure that any one of us alone or even working in our departments can come up with solutions to my two problems. And that is another part of our modern world – political scientists have to learn to think together collectively (see Trent and Moggach 1985). This will be like political scientists crossing the Rubicon. Breaking out of our self-imposed, monastic, intellectual isolation will take foresight and courage. Many will say it unattainable, even unthinkable. But once we have set up the capacity for thinking together, it will seem like it was the most reasonable step in the world and many new breakthroughs will flow from it.

So my last question is this: should our national political science associations and the IPSA and our research committees not be setting up one or more commissions to study and evaluate the state of the discipline and report back to its members? After all, that is what the Montreal conference is all about. So, I too have a dream. I dream that the IPSA and the APSA and all the other PSAs and the research leaders of our discipline will hear and act upon this reasoned appeal for collective cogitation about the future of our discipline from the World of Political Science book series.


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Appendix A

The following is a summary of the guidelines developed by the Project Sub-Committee of Research Committee 33 on the Study of the Discipline to help give coherent direction to the various papers produced by the RCs participating in the World of Political Science Project:


This is not simply just another "state-of-the-art" exercise. We want to go beyond a list of who is doing what. Nor do we mean a particular state of development or advancement. The discipline is always 'developing'. Rather for us 'development' is a sort of codeword to designate a process for the study of the discipline. By 'development' we mean analysis and explanation: analysis of all the elements of the discipline including both its research output and infrastructure (training, funding, institutions, publications, transfer of knowledge, and influence on the socio-political system); explanation of why things are the way they are. Why are certain models, theories and methods predominant and how did they get to be so? To what extent are there regional, national or cultural differences in findings, ideologies, philosophies and approaches, and how do we explain this diversity? To what degree is it explained by divergent political behaviour and to what degree by differing questions and perspectives?

In other words, we want to foster a self-conscious, systematic, and common perspective toward explaining variance in the discipline and to explaining the various degrees of advancement, indigenisation, and universalization. We want to move toward 'causal' understanding of our discipline so we can evaluate its current status and seek areas and means for improvement as we strive after elusive political generalizations.


If the individual RC studies of the development of the discipline are to articulate a vision of the state of political science that has a resonance in the discipline and across IPSA, they would need to share a common perspective for comparative purposes. The suggestions of the sub-committee are not very heavy-handed in this regard because we are well aware of the potential differences in nature between the sub-disciplinary fields.

1. Although the title of your RC might be specialized, perhaps you may consider orienting your study to the broader topic which characterizes your sub-field as it is generally recognized in the discipline. This will provide us with studies that would be more widely used.

2. For comparative purposes, it is purposed that, within the definition of 'Development' outlined above, each RC commission four papers to cover: 1) A state-of-the-art type survey of current activities in their specialization; 2) A study of conditions in methodology, concepts, training and communication of research; 3) A synthetic overview analysis and explanation of developments and trends; 4) A critical perspective focusing on present strengths and weaknesses and making suggestions for the future. This general approach will be very important for the cohesion of the project but, of course, it can be adapted to suit each Committee. It will be important for the four authors to work as a team and to circulate early drafts of their papers to each other. The suggested approach to the content of the four papers is elaborated below. We hope you will transmit these guidelines to all of the authors writing papers for the project in your Committee.


This first paper should describe the significant, recent developments in the sub-field. Some questions that might be addressed are: what has been going on in the specialisation during, say, the past two decades? (Each RC should consider the appropriate period to cover. One possibility is to take the period since the last major attempt to survey the sub-field, if this has ever been done). Who is doing what - in terms of cited authors, key writings, major research projects and findings, conceptual and theoretical changes, dominant schools and/or trends etc.? Are there widely accepted empirical and theoretical generalizations that tend to define the sub-field? Have there been recent seminal contributions? Are there broad areas of universal agreement or are there significant regional-cultural differences in approach and/or interpretation in various parts of the world?


The second paper, like the first, will provide basic empirical data for the third and fourth papers. It will focus on the current infrastructure and resources available to the sub-disciplinary area. Possible questions to be considered are: Is the sub-field taught as a special subject or as a part of other courses? Is it a doctoral topic? Does it have relatively settled parameters and a conceptual and terminological core? What are the major methodological approaches to research in the area? How wide an impact does the subject matter have on the discipline of political science? Does it have its own research centres and journals that are devoted to it? Is funding for research in the area readily available? By what means do specialists in the field communicate with each other and with the discipline as a whole, and to students, practitioners and the general public? Is the Internet playing a significant role?


The authors of Papers 3 and 4 should take a step back from the actual activities in the sub-field to analyze and explain the significance of developments in the general domain studied by the Research Committee. To start, Paper 3 should seek to delineate the major new developments and trends that are defining the specialization and to analyze the factors that account for these developments. What are the major approaches and paradigms? What has happened, what has changed over, say, the past two decades? How does the field compare in content and quality with the immediately previous or earlier periods? Has there been accumulation of knowledge? Are there trends toward universalization or fragmentation? What explains the current state of the field? Are these determinants academic factors within the discipline, or the availability of resources, or socio-political factors and trends - or some other cause?


Paper 4 carries out a critical evaluation of the specialization. It looks at its strengths and weaknesses and makes recommendations for improvements and directions for the future. How well is the subject matter of the specialization taught, researched and communicated? What approaches and topics are neglected? Does the field have biases? What have been the dominant influences - Americanisation, westernisation, local/regional/cultural differentiation, particular intellectual leaders of schools of thought, institutional conditions, resources...? Can we speak of ’hegemony’ in the field? What is the social/academic status of the sub-field? How good are its relationships with practitioners, citizens and activists in the field? With respect to its methods, concepts, theory, models, and approaches, can it be said there is a tendency toward 'universalization' (broad acceptance of generalisations) or indigenisation (adaptation to cultural conditions, development of alternative concepts, rejection of suggested universal concepts)? Are there significant constraints to sub-field progress or important facilitating factors?

Is it possible to evaluate the quality of the field and its contributions? For instance, at the academic level, has it been subject to rigorous educational standards and scientific and ethical criteria? Has it developed significant new concepts and systematic knowledge? Has it contributed to the evolution of ideologies? As regards practical contributions, is the sub-field of much relevance to the general public? Are its concepts incorporated into public discourse? Have its ideas been adopted? Has it provided important explanations of political phenomena? Has it led to political change? Does it provide information and structured knowledge for its various audiences? Do its intellectual leaders also play a socio-political role? Is knowledge from the field used in policies or policy analysis? Or can we say the field is a source of consciousness raising or a foundation for critical analysis