Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Theory

One of my Canadian friends just got into grad school at Carleton University. Today, I was chatting with her about “theory” as she had been asked to specify what theoretical framework she would base her research on. And anyone who has been to a pol sci seminar in North America knows the veneration by which the word “theory” is occasionally uttered.

Personally, being a so called political theorist, all this talk about theory makes me a bit uncomfortable. Often I have the feeling that we make things too complicated just to show off and then find ourselves stuck in those intractable ontological discussions. It is my sincere belief that much empirical political science can comfortably be interpreted through a lens of historical institutionalism without having to invoke more delicate stuff like structuration theory.

What is worse, much “theory” in political science tends to blur description, prescription and method in ways that are unfortunate to say the least. On the other hand, I have long given up on the early Wittgensteinian task of language demarcation. Thus, live and let live. At least for the most part :-)

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2 Comments:

Blogger //M said...

We don't complicate to show off, we do it to hide our ignorance. You should read the page I wrote earlier today. Or, coming to think about it, rather not.

11:13 pm  
Blogger Rasmus said...

Maybe you are right, reminds me of the old good Microsoft dictum: security through obscurity...

(which by the way is why Windows still is as bad as it is after 20+ years)

12:39 am  

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