Friday, 16 December 2005


U of C theory professor Jacob Levy talks about his tenure denial, breaking a two-month blogospheric silence; from his perspective, the fact that both he and Dan Drezner were denied tenure at the departmental level has nothing to do with blogging or ideology, but instead because “both political economy and liberal political theory are outside the emerging, Perestroikan, sense of what [Chicago’s] department’s about.”

My (strictly personal) sense is that any department that aspires to either be or continue to be considered at the top of the discipline needs to attract and retain the best faculty possible across the breadth of the discipline. My sense is also that the Perestroikans and their fellow travellers have at best a minimal conception of the actual breadth of the discipline. The intersection of these two senses is most disturbing, at least for those of us who’d like to think that Chicago ought to be an important center of political science research.


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.
[Permalink] 1. daniel Nexon wrote @ Sat, 17 Dec 2005, 10:33 pm CST:

The idea that the Perestroika movement is somehow to blame for a political theorist failing to get tenure is insane, frankly. If important people at the UofC have deiced that continental theory is the wave of the future, then this is neither here nor there from the perspective of a movement arguing for carving out more space for qualitative methods (of various stripes) and normative theory. Do many Perestroikans have a jaundiced view of the major fault-lines in the field? Sure. But the posts you’ve written strike me as odd rebuttals, given that there’s little in them that most of the people I know would find particularly shocking.


Reading between the lines, I think Jacob is tying the decision in his case to a particular prominent representative of the Perestroikan movement who is a faculty member at Chicago. Whether this particular representative is actually representative of Perestroikans in general, I cannot say.

My sense of the Perestroikan movement is that it is, in large part, an argument for a more “relevant” political science; how retreating from empiricism in favor of more airy-fairy speculation about how the universe ought to be organized increases the relevance of political science (except, perhaps, for prodding entering undergraduates to challenge their assumptions about how the world ought to work) is quite lost on me.

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