Why Doesn't Political Science Use "Emanuels?"
Saturday, June 3, 2006 at 12:06PM
Sean Wilson in The Club, composition, politicology

Why doesn’t political science have its own “Emanuels” (a popular version of a student-oriented commercial outline of what is taught in law school)? One easy answer might be that the commercial market for such a publication is poor. I do not buy this. You can find western history summaries and European history summaries in book stores. You can find micro and macro economics as well. I bet if you looked hard enough you could find one for psychology. But why no basic summary outline of the core findings of political scientists?

There appears to be only one of two answers to this question. Either political science has not produced any disciplinary “truths” that are universal among its practitioners, or the practitioners themselves are simply adverse to the transformation of  disciplinary knowledge into a concise, authoritative and hegemonic format. But again, why?

The thing that is nice about law school is its structure (to say nothing of the ridiculous educational methodology, the deficiency of its curriculum – Plumbing I, Plumbing II, etc., -- or the narrowness of its favorite intellectual aptitude). But there is no reason why political science could not take its body of intellectual contribution and put it into a format that says “this is what we know best,” and “this is still around, but not considered paradigm.” It would be just like Emanuels listing the “majority rule” and “minority rule.” An entry about the American policy process, for example, might indicate that neopluralism is the preferred view of the policy process, and that the non-preferred (“minority rules”) are elite theory, perfect pluralism and democratic theory. Ada W. Finifter is the only scholar who I know that tried to summarize disciplinary knowledge, but I think the general consensus found his work to be problematic. (Correct me if I am wrong. I only remember my dislike for the book in graduate school many years ago). Wouldn’t graduate students benefit from an Emanuels kind of product? Wouldn’t it give our endeavors more structure? Sometimes I feel that all political science wants to be is a form of “art camp.”

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