Scholasticism in Political Science

Mead, Lawrence M.
Perspectives on Politics. V. 8, no. 2 (June 2010): 453-64.

Criticism of trends in political science centers on specific methodologies—quantitative methods or rational choice. However, the more worrisome development is scholasticism—a tendency for research to become overspecialized and ingrown. I define that trend more closely and document its growth through increases in numbers of journals, organized sections in the American Political Science Association, and divisions within the APSA conference. I also code articles published in the American Political Science Review to show a growth in scholastic features in recent decades. The changes affect all fields in political science. Scholasticism serves values of rigor. To restrain it will require reemphasizing relevance to real-world issues and audiences. To do this should also help restore morale among political scientists.

Wagner Faculty