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Struggling to Address the ‘Big and Burning Questions : The Opportunities and Perils of (Austrian) Political Science Going Mainstream
AuthorHeinisch, Reinhard
Published in
Österreichische Zeitschrift für Politikwissenschaft, Innsbruck, 2018, Vol. 47, Issue 3, page 71-79
PublishedInnsbruck : innsbruck university press, 2018
Document typeJournal Article
Keywords (EN)relevance / political science / mainstream / puzzle-solving / Austria
URNurn:nbn:at:at-ubs:3-11418 Persistent Identifier (URN)
 The work is publicly available
Struggling to Address the ‘Big and Burning Questions [0.66 mb]
Abstract (English)

This essay raises the question of whether mainstream political science fails to address adequately the important questions about the state of democracy that are dominating the current public discourse. Increasingly common research practices in mainstream political science focus on technical questions and puzzle-solving while incentivizing conventional approaches and narrow risk-averse scholarship. This threatens political sciences ability to contribute meaningfully to the public discourse. Under these circumstances, the Austrian branch of the discipline is joining mainstream international political science in a quest for greater relevance after decades of marginalization. The article traces the evolution of postwar international and Austrian political science, suggesting that the current focus on puzzle-solving is a reaction to previously dominant paradigms in the discipline that made grand claims on the basis of few data. The essay also shows that the delayed establishment of Austrian political science as an academic discipline and its long disconnect from international developments in the field long undermined its recognition. Now that it is becoming more mainstream and international, there are unprecedented opportunities for greater prestige but also new perils to be avoided.

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