Day: January 9, 2013

Standard Stories for Hiring Decisions in Political Science

Update: so the very first commentator revealed how much this was the product of a bad cold. Indeed, I’ve completely misnamed the post. It shouldn’t be “standard stories” but “contextual assumptions.” The most important rhetorical commonplace, in my experience, is exactly what the commentator said: “quality” of research and presentation. What I’m interested in is the broader issue of how we know what quality is and why we care about it–what are the appeals that adjudicate those issues?  

Why do political science departments in research universities make offers to particular candidates? I don’t have a good answer for that, but I think listing common justifications is a good place to start thinking about the question. So here are some standard arguments, distilled down to their essence, for hiring decisions:

  • Signaling that we are a high-quality department;
  • Improving our rankings in either the short- or long-term;
  • Resolving gaps in our course offerings;
  • Resolving gaps in our methodological toolkit;
  • Reinforcing strength in a niche specialty;
  • Improving diversity in the immutable characteristics of our faculty; and
  • Giving some subset of scholars in the Department additional people to talk to.

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International Relations Fetish on the Rise

The Canard

“All the fake news that fit to print”


A new report issued Tuesday by the American Political Science Association reveals that compared to their counterparts in American politics, comparative politics and political theory, international relations scholars are twenty times likelier to have a belly button fetish. “There is an epidemic of navel-gazing among today’s great experts in foreign affairs and something must navel gazingbe done,” said Jane Mansbridge, Harvard University professor and President of APSA.

The news comes amid the newest surge in button-peeping, a hot new spread published by Stephen Walt and John Mearsheimer in the European Journal of International Relations lamenting the current state of international relations research. The piece has produced fevered introspection and self-analysis on professional blogs, not only in the fetid quarters of reprobates such as Political Science Job Rumors but even on esteemed sites such as the Duck of Minerva. “This is a mainstream problem,” declared Mansbridge. “This is not back alley. It is Main Street. People are doing this in the light of day without internet handles. It is perverse.” The most recent spike in umbilical-gandering was just a few months ago with the publication of the results of the 2011 Teaching, Research and International Policy survey.

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Wednesday Afternoon Linkage

Egypt DuckI’m home sick. With my daughter. Who is also sick. So this will be brief.

  • Sean Kay makes the “case for Chuck Hagel” at the Huffington Post.
  • Daniel Larison slams Jonah Goldberg and other “petty, spiteful critics of Hagel.”
  • The Onion reports that Israel “plan to use veto power” against Hagel.
  • Michael Flynn gives the Hagel debate a political-science spin.
  • Reihan Salam defends American hegemony.
  • The rise of actual neo-fascism in Hungary.
  • Adam Elkus on the “market” for covert action.
  • Is the Lavrov Plan back as a possible solution to Iranian proliferation?

And also: Continue reading


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