In Search of the State: Political Science as an Emerging Discipline in the U.S.

  • John G. Unnell
Part of the Sociology of the Sciences Yearbook book series (SOSC, volume 15)


Although the study of the history of political science may not be as fully developed as that of some of the other social sciences, this area of research in the United States has now reached a point where it is difficult any longer to contemplate writing a single general treatment. Although there are reasons to be dissatisfied with existing work, particularly because of the tendency toward polemical and apologetic genres, the general contours of the development of the discipline and profession are quite accessible (1). However, in the way of corrective and specialized endeavors, there is still much to be accomplished. One of the subjects that has remained somewhat fallow is a careful consideration of the concept of the state. Although for a long period, in the early years of the field, this concept was virtually constitutive of political inquiry, it seemed by the beginning of the behavioral era in American political science, by the mid-1950s, that it was at best a vestigial notion. During the last decade, however, many social scientists have been “bringing the state back in,” even though others are still uneasy about such tendencies and worry about the “return of the state” and about the concept of the “political system besieged by the state” (2).


Political Science Political Philosophy Political Theory American Scholar Political Ethic 
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© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1990

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  • John G. Unnell

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