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Interdisciplinarity and the Study of Politics


This introductory article investigates the relationship between interdisciplinarity and the study of politics, drawing on the symposium papers. Beginning with a brief historiography of the study of politics/political science, we then explain what we understand by ‘interdisciplinarity’. Next, we explore the potential benefits of an interdisciplinary approach in political research, and also identify some of its shortcomings and potential pitfalls. Finally, while acknowledging the need for more debate, we give some doubtless partial guidance regarding further interdisciplinary research.

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  1. 1.

    As Ross notes in her symposium contribution, a previous wave of interdisciplinarity in the 1960s–1970s was motivated by more radical politics and ideas of the academy.

  2. 2.

    1 However, see Newell (2001) for a discussion of how much we need to master disciplines other than our own to work with them. Newell does not argue that we can simply treat other disciplines as treasure chests into which we can plunge our greedy hands at will; he does, however, maintain that it is enough to understand the basics of the other disciplines with which we are engaging if we then draw on a deep appreciation of the particular parts of it that are most germane for the project at hand.


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Warleigh-Lack, A., Cini, M. Interdisciplinarity and the Study of Politics. Eur Polit Sci 8, 4–15 (2009).

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  • interdisciplinarity
  • political science
  • political studies