The Divided Academy: Professors and Politics

By Everett Carll Ladd Jr.; Seymour Martin Lipset | Go to book overview
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4. Discipline and Politics: The Case of
the Social Sciences

We have noted that by all measures of political orientation, faculty in the social sciences 1 are more liberal or left of center than their colleagues in any of the other principal academic disciplines. Their polar position is not the only reason, however, that we will examine their political position in a separate chapter. As subjects directly concerned with matters of polity and society, the social sciences at once possess a greater potential for political influence and a larger measure of political vulnerability. They are the "political sciences." 2 On the one hand, the political orientations of social scientists are of greater moment because their disciplines are directly involved, in both teaching and research, with broad questions of public policy. And on the other hand, divisions over policy, both intramural policies and policies of the larger society, intimately affect the internal operations of the social fields.


The interest of both conservatives and leftists in the political stance of social scientists has grown since the 1930s, in part because of the view

Social and behavioral sciences is a fairly long and cumbersome phrase, and although it is the most exact one, we will usually substitute the simpler term social sciences, with apologies to clinical and experimental psychologists who would accept the designation behavioral but not social. In any event, we include in this category full-time faculty of colleges and universities who give as their principal teaching field one of the following disciplines: anthropology, economics, political science, psychology, and sociology.
Columbia University formally acknowledges this central focus. Its Graduate School of Arts and Sciences has three divisions: the Faculty of Pure Science, the Faculty of Philosophy, and the Faculty of Political Science, the latter including anthropology, economics, geography, history, sociology, and political science.


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