What “Internationalization” Means in the Social Sciences. A Comparison of the International Political Science and Sociology Associations

  • Thibaud Boncourt
Part of the Socio-Historical Studies of the Social and Human Sciences book series (SHSSHS)


This chapter compares the histories of the international political science and sociology associations, and shows how these histories change our understanding of the transnational development of political science and sociology from the 1950s onwards. It challenges three common ways of narrating the history of the social sciences. Rather than presenting the institutionalization of disciplines as a byproduct of their intellectual autonomization, the chapter shows that the emergence of associations largely preceded that of disciplines, and participated to the creation of the new social roles of “political scientist” and “sociologist”. Rather than describing the transnational development of political science and sociology by focusing on a single discipline, it argues that there is virtue in approaching these disciplines in a relational and comparative way, in order to highlight interactions, circulations, and struggles both within and between disciplines. Rather than analyzing the internationalization of the social sciences as a single mechanism driving them all in the same direction (e.g. that of an “Americanization”), it shows that internationalization is a plural process that takes different forms and shapes sciences in different ways depending on disciplinary, social, and political contexts.


Associations Autonomization Cold War East-West interactions in the SSH Field theory International Political Science Association (IPSA) International Sociological Association (ISA) Internationalism – Internationalization North-South interactions in the SSH Political science Professionalization Role Sociology UNESCO 


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© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Thibaud Boncourt
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Political Science, Centre Européen de Sociologie et de Science Politique (CESSP)Université Paris 1 Panthéon-SorbonneParisFrance

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