a1 Virginia Polytechnic Institute & State University
a2 Buffalo State College–SUNY
Ten years ago this October, the members of the political science community might have heard a short, but quite fascinating, cri de coeur about the prevailing practices of the discipline in the United States at the turn of the century. Circulating as an e-mail message shortly after the 2000 APSA Annual Meeting, it popped up in the inboxes of a few political scientists and graduate students throughout the academy, who then quickly redirected its message to hundreds and then thousands of their colleagues. Signed “Mr. Perestroika,” the e-mail's short passages bemoaned the profession of political science as it was unfolding under the allegedly misguided aegis of an “Orwellian system” of methodological formalism. Portraying the discipline as trapped in this intellectual cul de sac, Mr. Perestroika depicted an essentially degraded social science discipline that favored the political views of a “coterie” of “East Coast Brahmins” by ratifying their narrow methodological practices (cited in Monroe 2005, 9–11). Such practices, based mostly on “statistics or game theory,” wrongly promoted a simplistic and, for far too many students of the state and society, discredited economic understanding of politics. This unenviable methodological parochialism in turn favored a style of “professional correctness” that froze out other political perspectives and analytical approaches (Luke 1999, 345–63) in the discipline's key journals, major organizations, and scholarly practices. For Mr. Perestroika, these distorted academic norms were also compromising the relevance, utility, and validity of political science as an applied social science.
Timothy W. Luke is a University Distinguished Professor in the department of political science and chair of the government and international affairs program in the School of Public and International Affairs at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Blacksburg, Virginia. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Patrick J. McGovern is an assistant professor of political science at Buffalo State College–SUNY in Buffalo, NY. He can be reached at email@example.com.