Prospects for the New US Administration: What can Social Science Offer? Debate
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A trans-Atlantic panel of social scientists addresses the question of what social science might offer the new President of the United States in various areas of policy and government action. Andrew Rudalevige's analysis of the scholarship on managing the presidency leads him to state that ‘most of the major happenings of the Bush years were essentially administrative in nature. That is likely to continue. Thus, how and whether presidents achieve the sort of advice and responsiveness they desire from the bureaucracy has important implications not only for the kinds of policy the government implements, but for assessing democratic governance itself’. George Edwards examines presidential strategies for government with the conclusion that ‘Social science shows us that there is no silver bullet’ when a president is trying to obtain the support of the public or Congress. Jenel Virden points out that in 2008 women turned out to vote more than men, voted for Obama more than men, and were strongly hopeful that under the new administration prospects would improve. Having engaged so successfully with this sector of the population, the Obama administration is under pressure to recognize and address its needs. Robert Singh points out that there are necessary reservations about the utility of social science in informing an Obama foreign policy, but nonetheless elaborates propositions and principles that could usefully frame the administration's approach. Dilys Hill provides an overview and draws the debate to a close. The discussion in these pages is based on the 2009 Academy of Social Sciences annual debate, convened by Philip Davies and hosted by the Eccles Centre for American Studies at the British Library (Davies et al, 2009).
KeywordsUS presidency Obama leadership transitions
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