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Cult of the IrrelevantThe Waning Influence of Social Science on National Security$
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Michael Desch

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780691181219

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: September 2019

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691181219.001.0001

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Conclusions, Responses to Objections, and Scholarly Recommendations

Conclusions, Responses to Objections, and Scholarly Recommendations

(p.240) 9 Conclusions, Responses to Objections, and Scholarly Recommendations
Cult of the Irrelevant

Michael C. Desch

Princeton University Press

This concluding chapter evaluates the increasing tendency of many social scientists to embrace methods and models for their own sake rather than because they can help people answer substantively important questions. This inclination is in part the result of the otherwise normal and productive workings of science but is also reinforced by less positive factors such as organizational self-interest and intellectual culture. As a result of the latter, many political scientists have committed themselves to particular social science methods not so much because they believe they will illuminate real-world policy problems but because they serve a vested interest in disciplinary autonomy and dovetail with a particular image of what a “science” of politics should look like. In other words, the professionalization of social science is the root of the enduring relevance question. The chapter then offers some concrete suggestions for how to reestablish the balance between rigor and relevance in the years to come.

Keywords:   social scientists, social science methods, social science, intellectual culture, political scientists, policy problems, professionalization, policy relevance

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