Liberalism and the Emergence of American Political Science: A Transatlantic Tale

Liberalism and the Emergence of American Political Science: A Transatlantic Tale

by Robert Adcock


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Winner of the 2015 Award for Concept Analysis in Political Science

American political science has been widely but loosely identified as a liberal science. Robert Adcock clarifies the place of American political science within the liberal tradition by situating its origins in relation to the transatlantic history of liberalism. The pioneers of American political science participated in transatlantic networks of intellectual and political elites that connected them directly to the evolution of liberalism in Europe. This book shows how these figures adapted multiple European liberal arguments to speak to particular challenges of mass democratic politics and large-scale industry as they developed in America. Political science's pioneers in the American academy were thus active agents of the Americanization of liberalism.

In charting the emergence of American political science, Adcock shows how a distinct current of mid-nineteenth-century European liberalism was transformed into two alternative twentieth-century American liberalisms. When political science first secured a niche in America's antebellum academy, it advanced a democratized classical liberal vision that overlapped with the contemporary European liberalism of Tocqueville and John Stuart Mill. As political science expanded during the dramatic growth of universities in the Gilded Age, controversy and cleavage within liberalism came to the fore in the area of political economy. During the late-nineteenth century, this cleavage was fleshed out into the alternative analyses of democracy and the administrative state advanced by two divergent liberal political visions: progressive liberalism and disenchanted classical liberalism. Both visions found expression among the early leaders of the new American Political Science Association, founded in 1903; and in turn, within the fierce contest over the meaning of "liberalism" as this term entered American political discourse from the mid-1910s on. The history of American political science allows us to see how a distinct current of mid-nineteenth-century European liberalism was transformed into alternative twentieth-century American liberalisms.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780199333622
Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
Publication date: 04/09/2014
Pages: 312
Product dimensions: 6.30(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.20(d)

About the Author

Robert Adcock is Assistant Professor of Political Science at the American University. His research focuses on nineteenth- and twentieth-century Anglo-American political and social thought, especially the history and methods of the modern social sciences, and the politics of knowledge.

Table of Contents

Introduction. American Political Science and Liberalism in Transatlantic Perspective

Part One: From Europe to America
Chapter One. The Political in Political Science: The Liberal Debate about Democracy
Chapter Two. The Science in Political Science: The Historicist Debate about Method
Chapter Three. Democratized Classical Liberalism in the Antebellum American College: The migr Political Science of Francis Lieber

Part Two: Wide Political Science and Liberalism in the Gilded Age
Chapter Four. Political Science and Political Economy in the Age of Academic Reform: Andrew Dickson White and William Graham Sumner
Chapter Five. Historical and Political Science at the Johns Hopkins University: Historicist Science, Liberalism, and the Founding of National Associations

Part Three: Late Century Liberalisms and the New Political Science
Chapter Six. Disenchanted Classical Liberalism as a Political Vision: William Graham Sumner and A. Lawrence Lowell
Chapter Seven. Progressive Liberalism as a Political Vision: Woodrow Wilson's Political Science
Chapter Eight. The Transatlantic Study of Modern Political Systems: The New Political Science of James Bryce, A. Lawrence Lowell, and Frank Goodnow

Conclusion. The Americanization of Political Science and the Americanization of "Liberalism"

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