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Political Science and Political Education
Unformatted Document Text:  5 understood. Tocqueville knows that some teaching takes place even among the unschooled; he calls juries the free schools of democracy well aware that juries are instructed from the bench as they go about their deliberations. Still, his emphasis again and again in the book is on political institutions and the formation of democratic citizens through democratic activity. He has heard of and perhaps saw the emerging public schools, but does not treat them as the cradle of citizenship. He is aware of the role of religion in America, too, and considers it crucial to moral formation, especially of women, but he attributes to religion political constraint, not political education. Such is the extreme point reached by liberty and equality in the young United States that learning politics has to be done under the authority of no man but the individual, whose formation by institutions goes practically unnoticed by himself. 4 The Progressives restored the importance of schooling to political education; indeed, this movement sought to transform and indeed to build the apparatus of the American state, while organizing and centralizing many institutions of civil society. Influenced throughout by European learning, sometimes British, often German, the Progressives made the study of public administration central to political knowledge. Confident that scientific management could more efficiently and more honestly address social needs than the old regime of courts and parties, much less the chaos of the market, they organized many of the institutions and practices that constitute our world today: the research university with its Ph.D. degree, scholarly journals for the dissemination of research findings, national professional associations for academic disciplines responsible for setting goals and standards, 5 analysis of public policy, and much more. Indeed, the notion that political science is an academic profession charged in a special way with the education of citizens and public servants is a Progressive ideal. The behavioral revolution in political science belongs, then, to the era of American pluralism, what we still call the “postwar” era. This is hardly a surprise, except that the scientific character of behaviorist studies, precisely insofar as it imitates the natural sciences, suggests a distance, even a difference in kind, between the object studied and the researcher and so makes the simultaneous emergence of a certain form of democracy and a certain way of studying democracy appear coincidental, not linked. As new groups become active in politics, it makes a certain sense that they need a neutral vocabulary through which to understand their interactions with one another, and with which to measure and assess one another’s political strength; seen from another perspective, the resort to objective analysis appears as a way of avoiding sympathetic understanding and the hard task of seeing things through others’ eyes, sharing their 4 Tocqueville, Democracy in America, tr. Harvey Mansfield and Delba Winthrop (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2000), esp. vol. I, part 2, ch. 8-9, and vol. II, pt. 1. 5 See, for an important example, William Munro, “Report of the Committee on Policy of the American Political Science Association: Appendix VII: Instruction in Political Science in Colleges and Universities,” American Political Science Review 24 (1930): 127-45. See also Harold M. Dorr et al., Goals for Political Science: Report of the Committee for the Advancement of Teaching, American Political Science Association (New York: William Sloane Associates, Inc., 1951).

Authors: Stoner, James.
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understood. Tocqueville knows that some teaching takes place even among the
unschooled; he calls juries the free schools of democracy well aware that juries are
instructed from the bench as they go about their deliberations. Still, his emphasis again
and again in the book is on political institutions and the formation of democratic citizens
through democratic activity. He has heard of and perhaps saw the emerging public
schools, but does not treat them as the cradle of citizenship. He is aware of the role of
religion in America, too, and considers it crucial to moral formation, especially of
women, but he attributes to religion political constraint, not political education. Such is
the extreme point reached by liberty and equality in the young United States that learning
politics has to be done under the authority of no man but the individual, whose formation
by institutions goes practically unnoticed by himself.
4

The Progressives restored the importance of schooling to political education;
indeed, this movement sought to transform and indeed to build the apparatus of the
American state, while organizing and centralizing many institutions of civil society.
Influenced throughout by European learning, sometimes British, often German, the
Progressives made the study of public administration central to political knowledge.
Confident that scientific management could more efficiently and more honestly address
social needs than the old regime of courts and parties, much less the chaos of the market,
they organized many of the institutions and practices that constitute our world today: the
research university with its Ph.D. degree, scholarly journals for the dissemination of
research findings, national professional associations for academic disciplines responsible
for setting goals and standards,
5
analysis of public policy, and much more. Indeed, the
notion that political science is an academic profession charged in a special way with the
education of citizens and public servants is a Progressive ideal.

The behavioral revolution in political science belongs, then, to the era of
American pluralism, what we still call the “postwar” era. This is hardly a surprise, except
that the scientific character of behaviorist studies, precisely insofar as it imitates the
natural sciences, suggests a distance, even a difference in kind, between the object
studied and the researcher and so makes the simultaneous emergence of a certain form of
democracy and a certain way of studying democracy appear coincidental, not linked. As
new groups become active in politics, it makes a certain sense that they need a neutral
vocabulary through which to understand their interactions with one another, and with
which to measure and assess one another’s political strength; seen from another
perspective, the resort to objective analysis appears as a way of avoiding sympathetic
understanding and the hard task of seeing things through others’ eyes, sharing their
4
Tocqueville, Democracy in America, tr. Harvey Mansfield and Delba Winthrop
(Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2000), esp. vol. I, part 2, ch. 8-9, and vol. II, pt. 1.
5
See, for an important example, William Munro, “Report of the Committee on Policy of
the American Political Science Association: Appendix VII: Instruction in Political
Science in Colleges and Universities,” American Political Science Review 24 (1930):
127-45. See also Harold M. Dorr et al., Goals for Political Science: Report of the
Committee for the Advancement of Teaching, American Political Science Association

(New York: William Sloane Associates, Inc., 1951).


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