Political Science in America: Oral Histories of a Discipline

Political Science in America: Oral Histories of a Discipline

Political Science in America: Oral Histories of a Discipline

Political Science in America: Oral Histories of a Discipline

Excerpt

This book is an effort to enable political scientists to find their intellectual roots through the study of interviews with prominent political scientists. Unlike some of the other social sciences, political science, has done relatively little to convey a sense of disciplinary heritage to those who are just entering the field. The history of psychology is recognized as a respectable subfield of that discipline, and the American Economic Review regularly publishes photographs of past presidents of the American Economics Association, but political scientists seem relatively unconscious of their discipline's past. The most recent history of the discipline is The Development of American Political Science: From Burgess to Behavioralism, which has appeared in two editions (Albert Somit andJoseph Tanenhaus, 1967 and 1982).

The Political Science Oral History Program began in the late 1970 s as an effort to preserve the experiences and perspectives of major figures in the profession so that future political scientists will be able to hear and read what they had to say about their lives, their careers, and their involvement in the discipline. The American Political Science Association (APSA) operated the program for several years with financial assistance from Pi Sigma Alpha, the political science honorary. APSA's attempt to attract external funding for the project proved to no avail, and, in 1982, Pi Sigma Alpha accepted responsibility for the program and continued to provide some financial support. In the period from 1981 through 1986, about ten more interviews were completed, and most of them were transcribed and corrected, but the pace of interviewing slowed.

In 1987, Pi Sigma Alpha and the American Political Science Association decided to transfer the program to the University of Kentucky and to provide financial support beyond that offered by the university. The change gave the project a stronger professional base and increased the rate of interviews. Since the program was transferred to Kentucky, fifteen more interviews have been completed and transcribed, and several others have been scheduled.

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