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LOWI, The State in Political Science

LOWI, The State in Political Science

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AmericanPoliticalScienceReviewVol.86,No.1March1992
THESTATEINPOLITICALSCIENCE:HOWWEBECOMEWHATWESTUDY
THEODORE
J.
LOWI
CornellUniversity
A
mericanpoliticalscienceisaproductoftheAmericanstate.Therearepoliticalreasonswhyparticularsubdisciplinesbecamehegemonicwiththeemergenceofthe"SecondRepublic"afterWorldWarII.Thethreehegemonicsubdisciplinesofourtimearepublicopinion,publicpolicy,andpublicchoice.Eachisacasestudyofconsonancewiththethought-waysandmethodsofamodernbureaucratizedgovernmentcommittedtoscientificdecisionmaking.FollowingLeviathantoocloselyresultsinthreeprincipalconsequences:
(1)
failuretocatchandevaluatethereplacementoflawbyeconomicsasthelanguageofthestate,
(2)
thelossofpassioninpoliticalsciencediscourse,and
(3)
thefailureofpoliticalsciencetoappreciatethesignificanceofideologicalseachangesaccompanyingregimechanges.
T
hispresidentialpilgrimageisover,andIcanreportthattheAmericanPoliticalScienceAs-sociationisaliveandwell.Butapilgrimageisnotajourneyintohappiness.Apilgrimageisasearch,andnopilgrimageisfulfilleduntilthethepilgrimreturnsandsharesthepainsofdiscovery.Fromoutoftheirearlypilgrimage,theQuakerscried,"Speaktruthtopower."FromoutofmypilgrimageIresponded,"Who'slistening?"and"Whattruthsdowehavetoimpart?"Onmypilgrim-ageIlistenedinontheconversationbetweenpoliticalscienceandpower,anditismydutytoreportthatthetermsofdiscoursehavebeensetbypower.Wearenottheteacherswethoughtourselvestobe.Theinsightsofmypilgrimagebeganwithmyawakeningtothreefacts:(1)U.S.politicalscienceisitselfapoliticalphenomenonand,assuch,isaproductofthestate;(2)thereisnotonescienceofpoliticsbutseveral,eachtheoutcomeofaparticularadaptationtowhatitstudies;and(3)evenassumingthatweareallsincerelysearchingforthetruth(anditismoreinterestingtoassumethat),therearereasonsotherthanthesearchfortruthwhywedothekindsofpoliticalsciencewedoandwhyparticularsubdis-ciplinesbecomehegemonic.Insum,everyregimetendstoproduceapoliticsconsonantwithitself;thereforeeveryregimetendstoproduceapoliticalscienceconsonantwithitself.Consonancebetweenthestateandpoliticalscienceisaproblemworthyoftheattentionofeverypoliticalscientist.Toexploretherelationbetweenthestateandpoliticalscience,Ihavechosencasestudiesofthethreehegemonicsubdisciplinesofourtime-s-publicopinion,publicpolicy,andpublicchoice-precededbyanoverviewofthetransformationfromtheoldto.thenewstateandtheoldtothenewpoliticalscience.Iwillconcludewithabriefevaluationoftheconse-quencesforpoliticalscienceofbeinga"dependentvariable."ThereisnoneedtodocumentforpoliticalscientiststhecontentionthattheAmericanstateuntilthe1930swasvirtuallyanoxymoron.Thelevelofnationalgovernmentactivitywasalmostaslowin1932asithadbeenin1832.However,althoughanumberoflargesocialmovementshadfailedtoexpandthenationalgovernmentaftertheCivilWar,theyhadsucceededinnationalizingthefocusofU.S.politics.TheCivilWarandindustrializationmadeusonenationinfact.
Wabash,St.Louis,andPacificRailway
v.
Illinois
of1886(118U.S.557)contributedwiththedoctrinethatthestategovernmentswereconstitu-tionallyincompetenttoconfrontthenationalizingeoonomy.Themediatransferredtheirdependencefromthehighlylocalizedpoliticalpartiestothecorporationsseekingmasssalesthroughadvertising.Politicalscienceasaprofessionwasaproductofthisnationalizationofpoliticalfocus.Intellectualhis-torianssuchasSomitandTannenhaus(1967)andSeidelman(1985)reportthattheAPSAwaspartoftheprogressivereformmovement.Somit/Tannen-hausreportthatonly20%ofthefirstdecade'smem-bershipwere"professorsandteachers"(p.55).Fromoutofthebeginningsinthe1890s,wherethewritingwas"legalistic,formalistic,conceptuallybarrenandlargelydevoidofwhatwouldtodaybecalledempir-icaldata"(p.69),thefoundersoftheassociationwerecommittedtopoliticalrealism,whichmeantfacts,thehereandnow,andtheexposureofthegapbetweentheformalinstitutionsandtherealities.JamesBryceinhisaddressasthefourthassociationpresidentin1909,urgedpoliticalscientiststo"Keepclosetothefacts.Neverloseyourselfinabstractions....TheFactisthefirstthing.Makesureof
it.
Getitperfectlyclear.Polishittillitshinesandsparkleslikeagem"(quotedinSomitandTannenhaus1967,70).ThetitleofWoodrowWilson'spresidentialaddresstotheseventhannualmeetingoftheAPSAwas"TheLawandtheFacts."Earlyinhisspeechhesaid,"Itakethescienceofpoliticstobetheaccurateanddetailedobservationof[the]processesbywhichthelessonsofexperiencearebroughtintothefieldofconscious-ness,transmutedintoactivepurposes,putunderthescrutinyofdiscussion,sifted,andatlastgivendeter-minateforminlaw"(1911,2).Butthesewerenot
1
 
TheStateinPoliticalScienceMarch1992factsforthemselvesalone.Someearlypoliticalscien-tistswereactivereformers,otherswereradicalmuck-rakers,andafewmayhavebeencompletelyaloof.Butfactsweretobeputintheserviceofassessment:Didagivenpoliticalinstitutionmeetitspurpose?AccordingtoWilson,politicalscientistsshouldserveasakindof"self-constitutedcommission...todis-cover,amidstourpresenteconomicchaos,acommoninterest,sothatwemightlegislateforthewholecountryinsteadofthis,that,ortheotherinterest,onebyone"(pp.6-7).Thereisnoevidencetosuggestthatthefoundinggenerationweretryingtoforman
intelligentsia,
de-finedasanorganizationofintellectualsinoppositiontothestate.Therewas,infact,nostatetoorganizeagainst.
If
anything,therewasamemorytraceofthetwostatesthatconductedthemostdevastatingtotalwarinhistoryupto1865.ButbothstatesweredismantledquicklyaftertheCivilWarandwerefoldedbackintothe"statelesspolity"oftherestoredUnion(Bensel1990).Onecouldsay,however,thattheearlyAPSAwasakindof
counterintelligentsia
formedindefenseofastatethatdidnotyetexist.ThepoliticalscienceoftheentirefirstgenerationoftheAPSAwasformedaroundpolitics-theobservable,theimmediate,andtheshort-runpurposetobeserved.Butpoliticswasnotonlyaphenomenon,itwasaproblem.Forexample,toGoodnow,thepur-poseofthepoliticalsciencewastoshow"particularlyfromaconsiderationofpoliticalconditionsastheynowexistintheU.S.,thattheformalgovernmentalsystemassetforthinthelawisnotalwaysthesameastheactualsystem"(quotedinRoss1991,274).Andformostofthem,therewasahandysolutiontotheproblemofpolitics-government,properlycharacter-izedasthe"buildingofanewAmericanstate"(Skowronek1982).ThisgoalofanewAmericanstatecan,inturn,becharacterizedasastatelessgovern-ment,oranenlightenedadministration.WoodrowWilson,whilestillanobscureprofessorofpoliticalscienceatJohnsHopkins,soundedthecallforthestudyofadministrationin1887.Thisshouldbeunderstood,however,withinthecontextofhisstilllargerdeclarationthattheeraofconstitutionmakingwasclosed"sofarastheestablishmentofessentialprinciplesisconcerned"(quotedinRoss1991,275).Administrationcouldbeasolutiontopoliticsbe-cause,inWilson'swords,wecouldhavethePrussianstatebreathefreeAmericanair(Wilson1887).AsSeidelmanputsit,"thestudyofpoliticsforWilsonthushadtoevolveintoastudyofAmerica'sculturaluniquenessandEuropeanadministration"(1985,44).Wilsonwasconfirmingtheunarticulatedmajorpremiseofpoliticalscience,namely,thattheAmeri-cansystemwaspermanentandthatthescienceofpoliticsinvolvedthestudyandassessmentofpoliticalthingswithinapermanentanduniquecontext.Wewereonerepublic,thenandforever.Politicalscien-tistscouldremainacounterintelligentsianotbecauseallmemberssharedtheLockeanliberalconsensusbutbecausetheywerescientistsinthestate-buildingbusinessevenwhile,aswithBentley,theywereattackingtheveryconceptofthestateas"soulstuff"(ibid.,70-71).Forthesamereason,politicalsciencewasatheoretical.Worksproducedbythefoundinggenerationstandupwellevenbytoday'sstandardsofscienceandaresuperiortomostofoursinthequalityoftheknowledgetheybroughttobearandintheiruseoftheEnglishlanguage.Buttheworkremainedessentiallyempiricalandbecamealmosttechnocraticinitsparticipationinthereformmove-ment,primarilybecause
it
hadnoconceptofanalternativeregimeintheUnitedStates.
It
shouldhavebeenunmistakablycleartoanypoliticalscientistof1887orlaterthattheAmericansystemaftertheCivilWarwasanewregime,deserv-inganewname.WhynottheSecondRepublic?Theansweristhatthatwouldhavesuggestedanimper-manencetotheAmericanregime.
If
aSecondRepub-lic,whynotaThirdandFourth?Mywifesometimesintroducesmetoherfriendsasherfirsthusband.Thatisasoberingsobriquet.PoliticalsciencewasatheoreticalbecauseithadnoconceptofaSecondRepublicorofanyotheralternativeregime.Eventu-ally,politicalscientistswouldvirtuallyrewritedem-ocratictheorytoaccommodatepoliticalpartiesandwouldrewriterepublicantheorytoaccommodatethedevolutionofconstitutionalpowersfromCongresstothepresidency.Butthiswasnotaself-consciousactofpoliticaltheory;itwaspartof"thestudyofpoliticalconditionsastheyexist."Inthestatelesspolityofthefoundingepoch,thescienceofpoliticswasthestudyofpoliticsandofpoliticalinstitutionswithinatime-less,aswellasauniquelyAmerican,framework.Inmyopinion,thegoldenageofU.S.politicalsciencecametowardtheendofthisfoundingepoch,whichcorresponds,ofcourse,withtheendofthestatelesspolity.Worksofpoliticalscienceofthe1930sand1940sweremagnificentintheirabilitytodescribeacomplexpoliticalwhole;thorough,honest,andimaginativeintheiruseofstatisticstodescribeadynamicreality;andpowerfulandcogentinpointingoutflawsanddeparturesfromU.S.ideals.Butthiswasthesentimentalpartofmyjourney.Toyearnforthoseparticularstudiesofelections,casestudiesofinterestgroupsandpolicymaking,historiesofpartysystems,andrepresentationinCongressistoyearnalsofortheluxuryoftheFirstRepublic,nowthatweareirreversiblyintheSecondandpossessatleastthebarebeginningsofanawarenessofthepossibilityofregimechangeintheUnitedStates.Surelybynowtherehasbeen,infact,achangeofregime,whichIcalltheSecondRepublic,forlackofanestablishedenumeration.
It
isnottheFrenchstateorthePrussianstate;butatleast,wecansaythattheAmericanstateisnolongeranoxymoron.Here,alltoobriefly,areitsrelevanthighspots:(1)itisapositive,notareactive,state,fromthestartcenteredontheexecutivebranch;(2)constitutionallimitsonthepowersofthenationalgovernmentovertheeconomyandonthedistributionofpoweramongthebrancheswithinthenationalgovernmentwereveryquicklylaidtorest;(3)manyaspectsofpoliticsthathadtraditionallybeenprivate(e.g.,registration,bal-
2
 
AmericanPoliticalScienceReviewVol.86,No.1lots,electionadministration,nomination,jobpatron-age,polling,andcampaignfinance)havebeengov-ernmentalized-thatis,moderngovernmenthasassumedresponsibilityforitsownpolitics;(4)politi-calparties,likenuclearfamilies,havedeclinedforlackofenoughtodo;(5)bureaucracy,independentofpartyandCongress,hasexpandedinsizeandscaleapproachingautonomyasasocialforce;and,(6)intimatelyconnectedwith(5),governmenthasbe-comeintenselycommittedtoscience.Thiswasnoaccident,anditisnomerepolicy.Scienceisaninherentpartofthenew,bureaucratizedstate,inatleasttwodimensions:First,itinvolvesacommitmenttobuildingscienceasaninstitution,thatis,acom-mitmenttogovernment
for
science;andsecond,itinvolvesacommitmenttogovernment
by
science-thatistosay,itinvolvesscientificdecisionmaking.Thishasbeenproperlycharacterizedas
iechnocraiiza-tion,
whichItaketomean"topredictinordertocontrol"(compareMills1959,113).Butanotherto-me-more-interestingbutlessappreciatedpartofthisaspectoftheexpansionofscienceisthat
economicshasreplacedlawasthelanguageofthestate.
WhatTocquevillesaidoftheFirstRepublicwemaysayoftheSecond:"Anewscienceofpoliticsisneededforanewworld"(quotedinWood1969,v).Butlifeisnotquitesosimple.
If
modernstatesaredifferentiated,therearealmostcertaintobeseveralsciencesofpolitics,ratherthanjustone.Wetendtocallthesesubdisciplines;butdespitecontinuitiesandoverlaps,theyarequitedistinct.Eachcanbeunder-stoodasaproductofthephenomenaitstudies;butIamconcernedherenottoexplainorplacethemallbutonlytounderstandthe"hegemonics"ofdisci-plines-whypublicopinion,publicpolicy,andpublicchoicebecamehottopicsandwhen.Somecallpublicopinionbehavioralscience.IthinkIammoreaccuratecallingitpublicopinion.Observ-ersfromanalienintellectualplanetwouldfinditmostpeculiarthatthestudyofindividualopinionsandattitudescouldbecalledbehavioral-untiltheydeconstructedthediscoursebetweenthenewbu-reaucratizedstateandthenewpoliticalscience.Hereismydeconstruction:
1.
If
scienceistobepublic,itmustbeneutral.2.
It
mustalsoberationalandthereforeconcernitselfwithrationalphenomena,thatis,orderly,re-peatable,predictablephenomena.Thisispreciselywhatmakesscienceandbureaucracysocompatible.KarlMannheim,in1929,over20yearsbeforethebehavioralrevolution,wrote,"Bureaucraticthoughtispermeatedbymeasurement,formalization,andsystematizationonthebasisoffixedaxioms...[suchthat]onlythoseformsofknowledgewerelegitimatewhichtouchedandappealedtowhatiscommontoallhumanbeings"(1936,167).3.Sciencealsohastobemicroscopic,downtotheirreduciblysmallestunit.
It
isnoparadoxthatasourstategrewlarger,theunitsofanalysisinoursocialsciencebecamesmaller.Thisisaprofoundlyimpor-tantaspectofrationality:outofsmallunits,largenumbersgrow;andlargenumbersbehaveaccordingtotheregularitiesofmathematicalprobability.(InthiscontextitiseasytounderstandwhyArthurBentley'sappeal"tofashionatool"withthegroupasthesmallestunitofanalysiswasfirstutteredin1907andnotreallyheard,orrespondedto,untilover40yearslater[seeSeidelman1985,72-74].)4.Science,likeadministration,hastofollowaprescribedmethod.AsRobertWiebeputit,"Bureau-craticthought...made'science'practicallysynony-mouswith'scientificmethod'.Sciencehadbecomeaprocedure...ratherthanabodyofresults"(1967,147).5.Thelanguageitselfhastobemicroscopic;thatis,sciencehastobetranslatedintothelanguageofvariables.Thephenomenaandmethodologyofpublicopin-ionobviouslymeetalltherequirementsofasciencethatwouldbeconsonantwithbureaucraticthinking.Andnowconsidertheunitsofanalysiswithinthesamplesurveysthatgivepublicopinionitslinktopoliticalbehavior:votingandparticipation.Thesedisplayanevenstrongerconsonancewiththestate,inthattheseareapprovedpoliticalbehavior(i.e.,politicalbehaviorsponsoredbythestateandneededbyregimesandelitestomaintaintheirlegitimacy).Someseebehavioralscienceasalargesteptowardhardscienceand,throughthat,anadvancementtowardgreaterenlightenmentaboutsocietyandpol-itics.Idonotdisagree.Butmypoliticalanalysistellsmealsothatthehegemonyofthesubdisciplineofbehavioralscienceorpublicopinionwastoalargeextentaproductofitscompatibilitywithbureaucraticthought-ways,ratherthantheresultofsuccessfuldiscoursewithinpoliticalscience.
It
isimportanttoemphasize,however,thatthehegemonyofthesubdisciplineofpublicopinionisacaseofnaturalselection,notoneofpoliticalmaneu-veringorintellectualopportunism.Anyoneperson-allyacquaintedwiththepeoplewhomadethebehav-ioralrevolutioninpoliticalsciencewouldagreethat
if
politicalskillwererequiredtosucceed,therewouldbenosurveyresearchcenters-probablynobehav-ioralscienceatall.
It
istheirverylackofattentiontoplayingthepoliticalgamethatmakesthesuccessoftheirfieldsointeresting.Theexplanationistobefoundnotinpoliticsinthevulgarsensebutpoliticsinthehighersense-thepoliticsofstatebuilding.TheSecondRepublic,havingputanewemphasisonscience,alsodeterminedwhatthatsciencewouldbe.Thecapacitytoengageinpublicopinionresearchinpoliticalsciencehadbeeninexistencesinceatleastthelatenineteenthcentury.Statistics,whichtakesitsnamefrom
state
and
statist,
reachedmaturitystillearlierinthenineteenthcenturyandgrewinimpor-tanceasstatesdemocratizedandindividualsbeganto"count"forsomething.Samplingwasalsowellad-vancedandwidelypracticed,especiallyintheagri-culturalsciences(Porter1986,23-25).Evenopinionpollinginpoliticalcampaignswasactuallytriedatleastasearlyas1892,albeitovertheobjectionsofmanydefendersofthesanctityofelections(Jensen1969,228-229)-andwaspickedupbyadvertising
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