jump to navigation

Political Science as Incomprehensible Rubbish 12, May 2009

Posted by thegulfblog.com in Random.
Tags: ,

Critical social constructivism can be distinguished from conventional social constructivism (and neoliberalism) through its anti-essentialist ontology and qualified-foundationalist epistemology, the use of post-structuralist approaches, and a concern with “omitted variable bias” in mainstream international relations (IR) theorizing, for example, mass publics in terms of “levels-of-analysis” and the consideration of “identity” as a driver of foreign policy. These characteristics underpin the approach used in this article, which support alternative findings to the “neo-neo” story of the drivers of Irish neutrality.*


What is worse is that the author has chosen to write this way. It is a clear and conscious choice to write this jargon-laden, turgid and near-indecipherable type of paragraph. It just needn’t be this way. Furthermore, making paragraphs as long as this and stretching the English language as far as possible to make them as hard as possible to understand, utterly interrupts the reader’s flow and ability to place the ideas into context. The sense of the overall article is lost amid a growing red mist of frustration, burgeoning hatred and dark thoughts.

* (A paragraph taken from an article from a leading political science journal. Need I say that it is NOT written by this author: I am most certainly not trying to plagiarize and take credit…)


1. Anonymous - 21, April 2010

just becuase you do not understand the technical terms within the article does not make it poorly written. if you selected an article from a technical journal that deals with electronic engineering or some branch of the natural sciences you wouldnt understand it either because the technical content is aimed at a technical audience. just because you watch cnn or read the ny times doesnt give you an understanding of political science, you’r basically just braodcasting your ignorance of the subject

davidbroberts - 21, April 2010

Most of that is perfectly fair comment. However, I disagree about two points.

Firstly, this excerpt is essentially an exercise in mental masturbation. It is so over-the-top and dense that the impression is that the author is willfully seeking to make the passage as inaccessible as possible. Surely the goal of journals is to disseminate knowledge and foster ideas? I have no doubts whatsoever that that passage could have been written in a comprehensible manner. Need I state that most political science articles are infinitely more readable than this one?

Secondly, political science is wholly different from electronic engineering and other hard sciences, no matter how much it desperately wants to be taken as a hard science. I might suggest that the author is purposefully making this passage as obtuse as possible in order to – exactly as you write – make political science take on some of the boundaries and [sic] incomprehensibilities inherent in some sciences. I wholly accept though, that this is just personal conjecture.

davidbroberts - 21, April 2010
2. Anonymous - 22, April 2010

most political science articles ARE infinitely more readable than this one. but most political science articles do not attempt the arduous task of differentiating between critical and social constructivism (some argue there arent any). to do so requires the author to use technical terms in the interests of parsimony, to define every term or use ‘two words instead of one’ would make it even more more difficult.

it could also be said that dealing with ontological and epistemological differences is more an exercise in philosophy than polsci, it which case this article is pretty much what you expect from every philosophy article

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: