APSA Statement on the Essential Role of Social Scientific Inquiry in Maintaining a Free, Participatory, Civil, and Law-Governed Society
As we approach our virtual 2020 annual meeting, which explores “Democracy, Difference, and Destabilization”, at a time when political polarization obstructs understanding of many urgent major issues, the American Political Science Association reaffirms the essential role of social scientific inquiry in maintaining a free, participatory, civil, and law-governed society, and our commitment to scholarship and professional practices that contribute to social as well intellectual progress. As a scholarly discipline, political science has a special connection to public life. It involves the analysis of ideas, institutions, and behavior to elucidate the distribution of power, the actions of governments, and their consequences for people’s lives.
In the United States, political science emerged at a time when education, publications, and the public sphere at large were shaped by state-sponsored discrimination—from universities segregated by race and gender to grotesque acts of racial violence perpetrated by federal, state, and local institutions, as well as private actors. All too often, political science scholarship aided in falsely essentializing human differences and justifying immoral state policies of marginalization, suffering, and death. Inevitably, today’s political science still bears some marks of its founding. Our journals, our syllabi, citation patterns and our canons of scholarship—even how we narrate the history of the discipline itself—have been shaped by the prejudices as well as the achievements of past generations.