Interdisciplinarity and the Study of Politics

Abstract

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.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Notes

  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.

References

  1. Bevir, M. (2006) ‘Political studies as narrative and science, 1880–2000’, Political Studies 54 (3): 583–606.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  2. Burnell, P. (2003) ‘Perspectives’, in P. Burnell (ed.) Democratization through the Looking Glass, Manchester: Manchester University Press, pp. 1–19.

    Google Scholar 

  3. Cini, M. (2006) ‘The “State of the Art” in EU studies: from politics to interdisciplinarity (and back again?)’, Politics, Special Issue: The State of the Art, P. Taggart and C. Lees (eds.), 26 (1): 38–46.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  4. Foster, H. (1998) ‘Trauma Studies and Interdisciplinarity: An Overview’, in A. Coles and A. Defert (eds.) The Anxiety of Interdisciplinarity, London: Backless Books, pp. 157–168.

    Google Scholar 

  5. Geyer, R. (2003) ‘European integration, the problem of complexity and the revision of theory’, JCMS 41 (1): 15–35.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  6. Heywood, A. (2002) Politics, 2nd edn, Basingstoke: Palgrave.

    Google Scholar 

  7. Klein, J.T. (1990) Interdisciplinarity: History, Theory and Practice, Detroit: Wayne State University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  8. Klein, J.T. (2004) ‘Interdisciplinarity and complexity: an evolving relationship’, E:CO 6 (1–2): 2–10.

    Google Scholar 

  9. Kuhn, T. (1970) The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, Chicago: Chicago University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  10. Lipset, S.M. (1969) ‘Politics and the Social Sciences – Introduction’, in S.M. Lipset (ed.) Politics and the Social Sciences, London/New York: Oxford University Press, pp. vii–xxii.

    Google Scholar 

  11. Moran, J. (2002) Interdisciplinarity, London: Routledge.

    Google Scholar 

  12. Newell, W. (2001) ‘A theory of interdisciplinary studies’, Issues in Integrative Studies 19: 1–25.

    Google Scholar 

  13. Rhoten, D. (2004) ‘Interdisciplinary research: trend or transition?’, Items and Issues 5: 6–11.

    Google Scholar 

  14. Rosamond, B. (2005) ‘Globalization, the ambivalence of European integration and the possibilities for a post-disciplinary EU studies’, Innovations 18 (1): 23–43.

    Google Scholar 

  15. Snow, C.P. (1965) The Two Cultures: And a Second Look, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  16. Taggart, P. and Lees, C. (2006) ‘Politics – the state of the art’, Politics 26 (1): 1–2.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  17. Tansey, S. (2000) Politics – The Basics, London: Routledge.

    Google Scholar 

  18. Van den Besselaar, P. and Heimericks, G. (2001) ‘Disciplinarity, Multidisciplinarity, Interdisciplinarity – Concepts and Indicators’, paper to 8th Conference on Scientometrics and Infometrics (ISSI 2001), Sydney, Australia, 16-20/7/01.

  19. Warleigh, A. (2004) ‘In defence of intra-disciplinarity: “European Studies”, the “New Regionalism” and the issue of democratisation’, Cambridge Review of International Affairs 17 (2): 301–318.

    Article  Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Affiliations

Authors

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Warleigh-Lack, A., Cini, M. Interdisciplinarity and the Study of Politics. Eur Polit Sci 8, 4–15 (2009). https://doi.org/10.1057/eps.2008.15

Download citation

Keywords

  • interdisciplinarity
  • political science
  • political studies