Imperialism in the Social Sciences, or of the peculiar situation of the Political Science

The economy imposed to the other disciplines of the social sciences, the economic imperialism: the idea that the rational actor that is the foundation of their theories is the best explanation of the behavior. Sociology, in turn, had done the same with its own version of imperialism: sociology as the science basis of the study of the social, through which they could understand all the other. And anthropology we can also say that has also experienced his temptations of making a cultural imperialism, the idea that everything is cultural and symbolic.

The political science has the peculiarity of not having succumbed to any temptation like. It is explicitly a discipline aimed at addressing a specific field of social life: the power within political institutions within the State. Taking into account that the imperialists are, finally, facilismos and mistakes, this may well be read as a praise to science policy, which in his humility well, we could teach the rest.

But that is not the intent of that input. It is true that the imperialists are, without exception, mistakes: Everything can be cultural, but culture is not everything; social relationships can be essential for any entry in the social life, but do not exhaust all the perspectives; and the perspective of rational action can be applied to any scope, there is no need to reduce it to the economic life, but not everything is rational. And yet those limits we can only set them with clarity when we explore those points of view to its respective limit, when we use them everything we can give and even beyond. But to make that effort, in order to investigate as soon as they can give those points of view, required is finally in imperialism: the idea to move out of the most obvious place to apply that point of view, and apply it without grumbling.

Ultimately the imperialists are temptations of the enthusiasm for a theoretical idea or a concept. And the enthusiasm that often lead to error, however, the inestimable virtue of allowing us to create. For all his faults, nothing of value is created without enthusiasm. While it is necessary to then cut out the picked up by him, well you need to have something to pick up. The temptation imperialist is a mistake fruitful.

In that sense, the fact that science policy is self-limited it is a limitation of the potential of this discipline. Or to put it another way: The power is one of the basic dynamic of social life, and we know very well that crosses different and diverse areas. Use the power as the element on which to base a imperialism would, of course, a mistake; but someone who was convinced of its potential and importance, and apply it without squeamishness to the whole of social life may well give us many inputs and ideas. We are, if you like, more poor in the social sciences due to the absence of that imperialism.

 

NOTE: Due to the imperialist character of sociology is in that category that is classified in this entry. There should be a category of social science but as a sociologist I think that there is no aspect of social life about which there can be a sociological gaze -and the limits that puts a scientific discipline itself is part of that social life.

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