Historians of the social sciences have noted that for the first generation of social scientists in the United States immediately after the Civil War, there was no distinction between politics and scholarship. While this equation has been understood either as an indication of the immaturity of the early social sciences or as a distinctive moment in time that has been lost to history, this dissertation argues that the political relevance of the social sciences does not rest exclusively in their direct advocacy work but in other activities such as constructing audiences to respond to their research and the manner in which that audience is engaged, terms on which the political relevance of the modern social sciences can be understood as well. Using the work of the classical pragmatists (Peirce, James, and Dewey) as an interpretive lens to study one early social scientific organization in particular, the American Social Science Association (ASSA), this dissertation urges an understanding of social scientific knowledge in terms of experiences that are worked upon by diverse audiences through a shared set of practices. Drawing on archives of ASSA documents at Yale University and a reading of the Journal of Social Science, the central claim of the dissertation is that the social sciences have been a political project from their beginning. Both pragmatism and the social sciences emerged at a moment in American history of great uncertainty as well as social and political change. To the degree that these conditions endure, so too do the underlying politics of the social sciences.
University of Minnesota Ph.D. dissertation. September 2014. Major: Political Science. Advisor: James Farr. 1 computer file (PDF); vii, 175 pages.
The Commonwealth of Social Science: The American Social Science Association and a Pragmatist Politics of Expertise.
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