Saturday, 15 January 2005

Really stepping in it

Uh oh, Alexandra Samuel just added insult to injury:

[L]et me agree with all those who pointed out that political science is not a “real” science. I am always available for a long diatribe on this subject myself, and will happily sign on for a campaign to rename it political studies.

For my part, let me say that I will happily sign on to a campaign to rename whatever Dr. Samuel does “political studies” (or “government” or “politics” or whatever she and her like-minded colleagues want) so those of us who actually apply the scientific method to the study of politics can reserve the title “political scientist” for ourselves.

As for me, though, I only offer the suggestion in the spirit of good humor, lest I be accused of advocating excommunication, although some reeducation may nonetheless be in order.


Any views expressed in these comments are solely those of their authors; they do not reflect the views of the authors of Signifying Nothing, unless attributed to one of us.

It is interesting that at Princeton the name of the academic department in question is “Politics” rather than “Political Science.” When I was there more than twenty years ago the professors were quite pointed in their use of this term. At least one of them observed that the name “Politics Department” left room for political scientists, but that “Political Science” did not leave room for those who studied politics as history or philosophy, which was an important theme in the work of the scholars there.

(TigerHawk, Princeton University, A.B., Politics, 1983)


Poli-Sci is easier on the tongue than Poli-stu.


Samuels really gets your goat, eh? :-)


Nah, I just figure a wee bit of hazing is always in order for new graduates of the illustrious Kennedy School of Government. ☺


To save the Kennedy School from unfair defamation by association, I should clarify that my degree was actually from the Graduate School of Arts & Sciences rather than the KSG. An invisible distinction for the rest of the world but the GSAS Gov. dept likes to think of itself as producing “real” political scientists rather than practitioners. Ironic, eh?

Anyhow by all means keep calling yourself a political scientist as long as I can give up the ghost. Personally I have for some time fancied restyling myself as Paco Underhill, Retail Anthropologist” but somebody else beat me to it.


Which, of course, begs the question: what’s the difference between a retail anthropologist and a retail sociologist?

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