By Mattei Dogan
Distorted Internationalization of POLITICAL SCIENCE :
CONSEQUENCES ON THE DIFFUSION OF CONCEPTS
ACROSS NATIONS AND DISCIPLINES
Could we say that a process of "globalization" of political science is developing? In terms of internationalization a significant progress is taking place. But this internationalization is distorted, and its salient characteristics could be interpreted as an asynchronic development. The unequal geographical diffusion of political science reflects generational gaps. The map of the discipline results from generational sediments.
The internationalization of political science concepts depends obviously of the globalization of the discipline itself. In a large number of countries there are not such concepts, because the discipline itself is absent or is in a incipient development. In the countries where political science has reached an advanced stage, concepts spread as much across disciplines as across nations.
Teaching political science in various parts of the world
As a formal discipline today political science is taught in a regular base probably in less than one half of the 180 independent nations. Within this half, the status of political science varies enormously. In some countries the teaching of political science is minimal and limited, and in other countries it is integrated in the curriculum of mass education in universities. In the United States and in Canada most of the eleven million under-graduate students are taking at least one course in political science or in an affiliated field. At the other extreme — in China, Central Asia, most countries in the Middle East — political science, as a discipline, is absent in the teaching programs, with a few embryonic exceptions. For Russia the picture is not clear today.
Today, roughly eight or nine every ten professors and students in political science are located in Europe, the United States, Canada, Japan and Australia and a few islands like Singapore, Taiwan and Hong Kong. There is more teaching of sociology in the small Finland and Israel than in the enormous Indonesia, Birmany and Pakistan. The highest density of sociologists is in Scandinavia, the lowest in Irak and Iran.
But teaching is not the best criteria for evaluating the diffusion of political science in the World. Two other criteria should be taken into consideration: research and publications.
Asynchronic development of political science
The geographical diversity can be reconverted in a temporal dimension. Countries can be ranked on six phases of development. In some countries political science is in a phase of incipiency or infancy. In other countries it has started an undifferentiated growth, emerging slowly from the conglomerate of neighbouring traditional disciplines like constitutional law, philosophy or history. In a third cohort of countries political science is institutionalized. In a fourth cohort it is in a phase of expansion, not only on teaching but also in research, seminars and publications, benefiting of a massive following of students. The fifth phase is characterized by the growth of specialized fields and by an internal fragmentation in domains. In the sixth and last phase, specialties are recombined with segments of other disciplines, across disciplinary borders. This new trend has been called hybridization (Dogan 1994, 1998).
How many countries could be today located in each of these six phases? Any statistical evaluation would be necessarily more or less arbitrary. What is important to retain is that countries can be graduated on a ladder of development, since the spatial diversity takes places also in an asynchronic dimension.
Unequal distribution of the discipline
Locating geographically the authors of the most important contributions to political science one would find that nine tenths of them are living or have lived and worked in Europe, the United States and Canada. Only in the recent years has been increased the proportion of outstanding works originated outside the Euro-American zone.
According to the Social Science Citation Index, nine tenths of citations in journals of political science are referring to European and American scholars. If we include in such an inventory some hybrid fields, like political soiology, political economy, social geography or social history, the proportion of political scientists, from other parts of the world, cited in the SSCI, would slightly increase. Such an hegemony of the North Atlantic area is recognized also in the natural sciences : today roughly 85 percent of scientists and engineers live in the most industrialized countries, representing 20 per cent of the global population.
The internationalization of political science consists in the diffusion from the core to the "new territories". Even countries with ancient and splendid cultures like India and Mexico are "new lands" in terms of penetration of the modern political science, as it is for the diffusion of biochemistry or of cognitive science. The contrast is vivid between the creativity and production in the 20 most advanced post-industrial societies and in the 50 poorest countries in terms of GNP per capita.
Internationalization of the discipline implies export and import of knowledge, particularly theories, concepts and methodologies. Fortunately, nationalistic barriers are not dressed against this kind of westernization. It remains for political science to penetrate into the largest country on the planet, China.
The Tour of Babel: Internationalization or Euro-Americanization?
Internationalization implies communication across national borders, and scientific communication is insured through an international language (except perhaps for mathematicians who can communicate in algebric). Physicits, chimists and biologists publish the results of their research in the lingua franca, that is today in English (yesterday French), because they address themselves to their confraternity.
Social scientists have nevertheless the desire and even the obligation to make known their work to their national community, and consequently often publish their writings in their native language. But it is a well known phenomenon that by publishing in a non-international language they "restrict" the diffusion of their scientific contribution. A work of primordial importance published in Polish or in Japanese will be known only in Poland and in Japan. Access to an international advance can be obtain only by publication in one of the few international languages. The languages most used in the social sciences are not the most used languages in the world (Chinese, Spanish, Russian). As a result of this, the internationalization of political science consists, in a sense, in the translation into a vernacular English, which in many cases is full of jargons and stylistic awkwardness. Already in the 1970s, 90 percent of the cited literature in political science was in English.
Social contexts as limits to universalization of concepts and theories
In physics and chemistry, science has no nationality. A chemist from Bombay or Manila can easily repeat an experience done in Berkeley or Oxford, and vice-versa. The atom is the same in Alamo and in Magnetogorsk. Natural sciences are universal sciences : chemical reactions are identical everywhere. At the contrary, social reactions are conditioned by contextual diversity : for instance, clientelism has a different meaning in traditional societies and in modern societies. Social realities are not the same in Tropical Africa and in Western Europe.
Natural sciences are universal by their very nature. Social science are, by their essence, contextual. Variables measuring social phenomena do not have the same validity everywhere, and their cumulative effect varies. Social environment is not antiseptic as a laboratory in bacteriology. In the social and historical sciences, the course of events can never be repeated, because in different contexts and at different epochs, the explanatory factors do not recombine in an identical way. In our brain, because of social memory and learning, events cannot be repeated totally. Natural sciences search for uniformal laws; social sciences for social diversity.
Given this diversity of world areas, the ambition to build theories of universal validity may be one of the main sources of confusion in the social sciences. Long ago Montaigne wrote that what was true in one side of the Pyrénées was false in the other side. Today many sociological concepts have different relevance in different regions. The work of children is condemned in some societies, not in others. Louis Dumont argued that the caste system and the egalitarian system cannot be comprehended as long as one of them is taken as an universal truth.
The need to ground empirical research in different world areas and contexts limits the potential for an universalization of concepts and theories. As Fred W. Riggs wrote long ago, the structuro-functionalism theory "led many of us to project, into other societies, conceptions that are quite irrelevant to them" (Riggs, p. 79), and as J. La Palombara emphasized, "an artefact of one culture transferred to another may represent a radically different meaning and relate to a quite different function in the new setting" (J. La Palombara, p. 128). Theories can be validated for particular national, temporal social contexts. There cannot be theories of universal and eternal validity (Dogan and Kazancigil, Introduction). The implication is that the process of internationalization has to advance in large part on the road of international comparisons.
In some domains the diffusion of knowledge and the internationalization of research activities are relatively rapid. In medicine for instance a new product is diffused very rapidly by the pharmaceutical industry. Banks and other financial institutions are more or less the same whatever is the social and economic environment. Sports are practiced according to identical rules of the game, in football or tennis for instance. In other domains the process of diffusion is rather slow, particularly in the diffusion of ideas, theories, expertize or ideologies from metropolises to towns and than to rural areas, and from core areas to peripheries.
The international diffusion of political science cannot be as rapid as the diffusion of technological advancements. Transistors, television sets and e-mail network penetrate everywhere in a short period. But the diffusion of social sciences encounter the obstacle of national contexts and for this reason needs much more time.
Even within the West the international circulation is sometimes difficult or at least delayed. A book published in German, French or Italian reaches a smaller audience in the other side of the Atlantic, even among scholars who can read these languages. Some important American books have crossed the ocean one or two decades after their publication, in spite of the fact that, for the air traffic, the Atlantic has become a river. The same phenomenon is observed in sociology. In the introduction of his Handbook of Sociology, Neil Smelser remark that "every authors represented in this handbook is American… the volume is predominantly a book on sociology as it stands in the United States", because, "sociology has been and remains a subject dominated by this country, if number of professionals, resources available and degree of institutionalization in the academy are used as measures" (Smelser, p. 15). Obviously, this great scholar underevaluates the capacities and contributions of contemporary European scholars, even if he salutes them with "a coup de chapeau". No wonder, if the circulation is much slower on the North-South axis.
International comparative teams
One way to favour the bottom-up geographical diffusion and internationalization of political science would be the frequent adoption of the comparative method, by bringing together in research teams scholars from various levels and from different horizons. Such international teams have today the wind aft.
International teams are the best protection against the risk of neo-colonialism in the social sciences. We should be aware of such a risk. Here a concrete example would be more useful than a discourse. The example that I choose could be called "invasion of western locusts to Eastern Europe". At recent international meetings, particularly at the World Congress of Sociology in Bielefeld (1994) and at the World Congresses of Political Science (Berlin 1994 and Seoul 1997), and at the recent meetings of ASA and APSA and of the European Sociological Association, have been presented by Western scholars more than one thousand papers dealing with Eastern Europe. Most of these authors were not interested in this part of Europe before the implosion of the Soviet Union and the dislocation of the glacial zone. Over night they have become specialists of Eastern Europe, in the sense that they are better known that the autochtonous scholars who have helped them to collect the documentation or to do the field research. This conversion was possible because they were armed with western concepts, theories and methods. Most of these papers have remained in mimeograph form. There are many exceptions to this trend particularly some great comparativists who invested in their work imagination, time, knowledge and energy, like J. Linz and A. Stepan or J. Higley, J. Pakulski and W. Wesolowski (in the last case the team included Eastern European Scholars), and many other scholars.
In a report to the Social Science Research Council, J. Abraham and R. Kassimir voiced the fear of many scholars that "the developing world — coded as local — would be seen as the source of data while Western scholarship — coded as global — would be seen as the "natural" source of theory. This raised the question of what kinds of collaboration are possible when differences in power and access to ressources are part of almost every North-South scholarly relationship" (1997, p. 29).
The comparative method used by international teams with autochtonous participants is one of the most constructive bottom-up way for the internationalization of social sciences.
Comparative research and analytical categories
Long ago, Stein Rokkan, as a fervent comparativist, wrote: "There are many ways of internationalizing a science: through the circulation of papers and the exchanges of scholars, through the organization of conferences and congresses, through the sharing of observational and experimental data, through the co-ordination of research, through cooperative institution — building of one sort or another, and by efforts to advance cross-cultural, cross-societal and cross-national research" (Rokkan, p. 645), advocating for a strategy that appears even today as one of the most efficient, productive and beneficial for the internationalization of social sciences: the cross-site replactions and cross-setting analyses: cross-site studies can be organized within a cultural domain, society or territory and than be replicated in a second, third, fourth country. Suggesting a strategy for comparative research, Rokkan proposes by the same token a strategy for the internationalization of political science and sociology, by distinguishing, in opposition to the typical single-nation study, three other strategies: the cooperative international research in one nation; the secondary analysis of data already available for several nations; the cooperative cross-national study (idem p. 647).
The comparative method is the royal road to overcome the linguistic barriers, the cultural ties, the ethnocentric views, the Euro-American hegemony in the long process of internationalization of the social sciences.
Analytical categories are born "operational". Those that attract the attention of scholars and demonstrate an ability to cross national boundaries and decades owe their power and longevity to the continuous adjustments they manage to absorb. That is to say, too rigid a definition may well be found sterile. International comparison has had a great influence on some analytical categories that originated in the West, even if they were originally forged with a global perspective.
The inclusion of developing countries in the research field has led many scholars to reformulate many concepts. At the four corners of the world, researchers have found that vertical stratifications are often more important than horizontal cleavages. Thus they have emphasised, for instance, the ubiquity of cultural pluralism or political clientelism.
A number of significant concepts could be considered from the point of view of their fruitfulness for international comparison. Categories such as national building or social mobilization, for example, have lived long after they were coined. Series of books delineate or renew interesting fields for international inquiry on social movements on corruption, leadership, power, neocorporatism. These concepts exemplify the way in which comparison helps refine the intellectual tools that, in their turn, permit comparison to progress further. Applied on a worldwide scale, international comparison plays the role of a powerful tool in these readjustments precisely because it is difficult to fit into a single and often rigid mold so many nations, systems, and societies.
For a century and a half, from The Use and Abuse of Some Political Terms by Sir George Cornewall Lewis published in 1832 to Social Science Concepts by Giovanni Sartori, Fred Riggs, Henry Teune, Gorge Graham and others in 1984, numerous scholars have denounced the conceptual confusion and the polysemy of terms in various disciplines and particularly in sociology. One of the reasons for this polysemy is indicated by Sartori: "We cannot form a sentence unless we already know the meanings of the words it contains… It is not that words acquire their meaning via the sentences in which they are placed, rather, the meaning of a word is specified by the sentence in which it is placed" (Sartori 1984: 17).
Another important reason for this semantic problem comes from the peregrination of concepts from one discipline to another. Borrowed concepts need some adaptation to the context of the new discipline, because a concept is not only a term, it is also a notion or an idea. A recent study of more than 400 concepts used in the social sciences has found few neologisms (de Grolier 1990: 271), and this can be explained by the fact that more concepts are borrowed than created. Some concepts are reanimated after a long oblivion. Max Weber resurrected the concept of charisma after centuries of neglect. David Apter made use of the concept of consociational organisation, which originally was applied to Presbitarian institutions in Scotland. He used it to analyse political conflict in Uganda. Arendt Lijphart and many others have developed it further with respect to small European democracies, Canada and South Africa.
We can neglect the etymology of concepts in order to stress how borrowing fertilizes imagination. The word "role" comes from the theatre, but Max Weber gave it a sociological meaning. From sociology this concept spread everywhere. The word "revolution" was proposed by Copernicus, but it was first applied to politics by Louis XIV. Historians adopted it, sociologists articulated it, before offering it to political science.
The patrimony of political science contains borrowed concepts, which are hybrid in the sense that they were concocted in other disciplines and replanted skilfully in the garden of political science. This discipline has nevertheless generated for its own use a long series of important concepts, the oldest being "power", formulated by Aristotle, and the youngest, "implosion", suggested by the fall of the Soviet Union.
Using the International Encyclopaedia of Social Sciences (Sills, 1968) and the analytical indexes of some important books, I have compiled an inventory of more than two hundred concepts "imported" into political science. In the process of adoption and adaptation many of these concepts have changed their semantic meaning. Political science has borrowed the following important concepts (excluding "lay" terms):
From sociology: accommodation, aggregate, assimilation, elite circulation, clique, cohesion, collective behaviour, hierarchy, ideal-type, individualism, legitimacy, mass-media, mass-society, militarism, nationalism, pattern variables, Protestant ethic, secular, segregation, social class, social control, social integration, social structure, socialization, status inconsistency, working class, Gemeinschaft-Gesellschaft.
From psychology: affect, alienation, ambivalence, aspiration, attitude, behaviour, consciousness, dependency, empathy, personality, social movement, stereotype, Gestalt.
From economics: allocation of resources, cartel, corporatism, diminishing returns, industrial revolution, industrialization, liberalism, dependency, mercantilism, gross national product, scarcity, undeveloped areas.
From philosophy and Greek writers: anarchism, aristocracy, consensus, democracy, faction, freedom, general will, idealism, monarchy, oligarchy, phratry, pluralism, tyranny, value, Weltanschauung.
From anthropology: acculturation, affinity, caste, nepotism, patriarchy, plural society, rites de passage.
From theology: anomy (disregard of divine law), charisma.
From journalists and politicians: imperialism, internationalism, isolationism, Left and Right, lobbying, neutralism, nihilism, patronage, plebiscite, propaganda, socialism, syndicalism.
Many concepts have multiple origins. Authoritarianism for instance, has two roots, one psychological and one ideological. It is often inadvertently interchangeable with despotism, autocracy, absolutism, dictatorship, etc. Authority has been analysed from different disciplinary perspectives by Malinowski, Weber, Parsons, Lasswell, Kaplan, B. de Jouvenel, C.J. Friedrich, among others. The concept of culture (civic, political, national) has many variants: cultural convergence, cultural configuration, cultural evolution, cultural integration, cultural lag, cultural parallelism, cultural pluralism, cultural relativity, cultural system, post-materialist culture. In the last two decades political scientists have been very productive in this subfield.
Max Weber and Karl Marx, both hybrid scholars, were the most prolific generators of concepts. Only Aristotle is comparable to them. Almond and Parsons are the fathers of an impressive number of concepts adapted in several disciplines.
In a few words: Because political science deals with contextual diversity, many of its concepts and theories cannot have a truly universal meaning. In a comparative perspective, which focuses on social contexts and on functional equivalences, the diffusion of concepts and theories depends on the diffusion of the discipline itself across continents. At the same time, concepts and theories cross disciplinary borders, more in the advanced societies that in the developing countries.
Dogan, M. and A. Kazancigil, 1994, "Introduction", Comparing Nations, Concepts, Strategies, substances, Oxford Blackwell.
Dogan, M., 1994 "Fragmentation of the Social Sciences and Recombination of Specialties", International Social Science Journal, 139, February, pp. 27-42.
Dogan, M., 1997, The New Social Sciences: Cracks in the Disciplinary Walls, International Social Science Journal, 153, September, pp. 429-444.
La Palombara, Joseph, 1970, "Parsimony and Empiricism in Comparative Politics", in R.T. Holt and J.E. Turner eds. Methodology of Comparative Research, Free Press, pp. 123-150.
Riggs, Fred, 1970, "A Conceptual Encyclopedia for the Social Sciences", International Social Science Journal, February 1987, pp. 109-125.
Riggs, Fred, G. Sartori, H. Teune, 1975, Tower of Babel, on the Definition and Analysis of Concepts in the Social Sciences, International Studies Association.
Riggs, Freds, W. Beyond Area Studies, International Sociological Association, Montreal, July 1998 (Unpublished).
Rokkan, Stein, 1970, "Cross-cultural, Cross-Societal and Cross National Research", UNESCO, Main Trends of Research in the Social and Human Sciences, Part I, pp. 645-692.
Smelser, Neil, J., 1988, Handbook of Sociology, Sage.
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