Practice and Theory: How Experiencing the Political Process Can Inform Scholarship

The latest virtual issue of PS features articles written by alumni of the Congressional Fellowship Program (CFP) from 2010 to 2015. The CFP fellows serve yearlong placements in congressional and executive offices, and they chronicle their firsthand experiences in the pages of PS. Enjoy the full virtual issue here.

PSC 49 V2 CoverPractice and Theory: How Experiencing the Political Process Can Inform Scholarship

Laura Blessing, Government Affairs Institute, Georgetown University

The opportunity to write this article for PS emerged because I was an APSA Congressional Fellow for 2014–2015. In addition to testifying to the value of the fellowship itself, I would also like to speak more broadly about the value to one’s scholarship of a front-row seat to politics. While my experience as essentially the interim tax legislative assistant for an involved member of the Ways and Means Committee has given me a fascinating window into tax politics and policy, I would like to address a topic of more universal interest to my fellow political scientists. Much of what our discipline does is based on theories of the political process: their creation, extension, modification—or challenges to them. Experiencing the political process can improve theory-building in many ways, from observing trends and events with larger implications, to the use of new sources, to new ideas of how to measure phenomena, to a greater appreciation for asymmetries of various kinds and how they structure politics. At the same time, one gains a greater appreciation for variables that place limits on generalizability.  Read more.

Laura Blessing

PS: Political Science & Politics / Volume 48 / Issue 04 / October 2015, pp 671-673