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New worlds in political science

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Political science’ is a ‘vanguard’ field concerned with advancing generic knowledge of political processes, while a wider ‘political scholarship’ utilising eclectic approaches has more modest or varied ambitions. Political science nonetheless necessarily depends upon and is epistemologically comparable with political scholarship. I deploy Boyer's distinctions between discovery, integration, application and renewing the profession to show that these connections are close woven. Two sets of key challenges need to be tackled if contemporary political science is to develop positively. The first is to ditch the current unworkable and restrictive comparative politics approach, in favour of a genuinely global analysis framework. Instead of obsessively looking at data on nation states, we need to seek data completeness on the whole (multi-level) world we have. A second cluster of challenges involves looking far more deeply into political phenomena; reaping the benefits of ‘digital-era’ developments; moving from sample methods to online census methods in organisational analysis; analysing massive transactional databases and real-time political processes (again, instead of depending on surveys); and devising new forms of ‘instrumentation’, informed by post-rational choice theoretical perspectives.

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