“Genre Blurring” and Political Science: What Can We Learn from the Humanities?

The following is a post from Rod Rhodes Professional News & Events. Posted on 14-07-13

I delivered the Inaugural Public Policy Annual Lecture at De Montfort University, 8th May 2013.

DE Montfort 2


British political science actively seeks greater professionalization. There is clear evidence of both institutionalization and specialization. This drive to professionalization now confronts the challenge of  blurred genres. Blurring genres involves drawing analogies and metaphors from the humanities. These analogies include the notions of game, drama, and text. I am claiming an ‘intellectual poaching  license’ for political scientists to hunt among the humanities. I have chosen two approaches that have great potential; the new political history and interpretive anthropology. In each case, after a broad  characterization of the approach, I proceed by discussing specific examples of craftsmanship. For the new political history, I examine the work of Maurice Cowling and Philip Williamson. For  interpretive anthropology, I examine the work of Emma Crewe and Cris Shore. Finally, I discuss how the general arguments of this paper apply to political science. My hunt suggests we focus on:  meanings, the symbolic, the local, the actual, the overlooked, the hidden, the inaccessible, the inconspicuous, and the ambiguous. In a phrase, I argue for the study of politics from below; for the intersection of ‘High Politics’ and ‘Low Politics’. (© 2013 R. A. W. Rhodes. Draft. Not for citation)

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