Lorenzo Zambernardi

Perestroika: the contemporary critique to the «scientific» study of politics

  • Abstract

Informations and abstract

Keywords: Perestroika, American political science, methodological pluralism, political knowledge, political theory

In October 2000, a self-proclaimed Mr. Perestroika sent an e-mail to a group of colleagues in order to denounce the parochialism, methodologism, and practical irrelevance of American political science. This e-mail started a spirited debate over the merits, the shortcomings and the hegemony of behavioural and formal modelling approaches in the discipline. The dispute, however, raised questions that surpass the boundaries of American political science and which are central to the study of politics, such as the progress of political knowledge and the problematic relation between political science and political theory. Accordingly, this article seeks to accomplish three main goals: one, examine the issues raised by Mr. Perestroika and evaluate the effects of his/her critique on the organization of political science in the US; two, argue that the success of political science as a «scientific» enterprise is still too limited to justify the marginalization of non-quantitative and non-formal approaches; and three, show that the «scientific» definition of political science has not only diminished the interest for political theory, but has also contributed to a deep misunderstanding of its original telos.

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