As ECPR turns 50, Virginie Guiraudon reflects on the development of the discipline in a European context in ECPR at 50: One ‘European Political Science’ or Several?
Presented by Virginie Guiraudon, CNRS Research Director at Sciences Po, Toulouse
With an introduction by Olivier Baisnée, Director of Research at Sciences Po, Toulouse
Is there a consensus on scientific method in political science?
If so, this implies that scholars agree what to disagree about, drawing the boundaries of the field and coming to a shared definition of the rules of the game that allow for the confrontation
of different perspectives and the concomitance of research programmes, each with a hard core of theoretical assumptions and auxiliary hypotheses.
Although transnational dynamics have always been at work, the discipline hails from different disciplinary traditions and national contexts. This historical diversity has buffered attempts
to impose a single paradigm, in particular 50 years ago when scholars in comparative politics who founded the ECPR did not fully adhere to the social or public choice revolution to supplant behaviouralism.
Where are we now?
What are the dynamics within the field and external factors that affect scientific pluralism? External funders, university rankings and the like pressure political scientists to conform to a certain ‘international standard.’ There are also signs that point to balkanisation and a lack of dialogue across various sub-fields.
After the tremendous expansion of political science, in spite of the growing sophistication of its techniques of inquiry, the discipline is actually fragile. It is exposed to a number of challenges
in many European countries, with direct attacks on academic freedom in certain states and more incremental phenomena such as budget cuts and managerial reforms in others.
This lecture takes stock of the current capacity to think collectively about the empirics of the times and take on new research agendas.