A New Handbook of Political Science

By Robert E. Goodin; Hans-Dieter Klingemann | Go to book overview

Chapter I

Political Science: The Discipline

Robert E. Goodin

Hans-Dieter Klingemann

RETROSPECTIVES are, by their nature, inherently selective. Many fascinating observations are contained within the wide- ranging surveys which constitute the New Handbook of Political Science. Many more emerge from reading across all of its chapters, collectively. But, inevitably, the coverage is incomplete and, equally inevitably, somewhat idiosyncratic. All authors are forced to leave out much of merit, often simply because it does not fit their chosen narrative structure. The New Handbook's contributors tell a large part of the story of what has been happening in political science in the last two decades, but none would pretend to have told the whole story.

It is the task of this introductory chapter to set those chapters in a larger disciplinary context and to pull out some of their more interesting common threads. Just as the coverage of each of the following chapters is inevitably selective, that of this overview of the overviews is, inevitably, all the more so. Of the several themes and subthemes which emerge, looking across these chapters as a whole, we shall focus upon one in particular.

The New Handbook provides striking evidence of the professional maturation of political science as a discipline. This development has two sides to it. On the one side, there is increasing differentiation, with more and more sophisticated work being done within subdisciplines (and, indeed, within sub-specialities within subdisciplines). On the other side, there is increasing integration across all the separate subdisciplines.

Of the two, increasing differentiation and specialization is the more familiar story, integration the more surprising one. But dearly it is the case that there is, nowadays, an increasing openness to and curiosity about what is happening in adjacent subdisciplines. An increasingly shared

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