RC33 - The Study of Political Science as a Discipline

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04Sep 2018

RC33 Brisbane Proceedings

RC33’s Brisbane panels were a big success: interesting, well attended, and lively. We also had productive and enthusiastic discussions about future events. Please find here our panel line-up and a summary of our discussions.

The RC will build up on Brisbane successes and keep the momentum going by starting work on the next congress now. We welcome all initiatives and invite all scholars interested in our activities to drop us a line.

20Jul 2018

RC33 Programme at IPSA Brisbane Congress

RC33 assembles an exciting line-up of panels and presenters at the IPSA Congress, held in Brisbane from 21 to 25 July 2018. All details on panels may be found following this link.

19Oct 2017

RC33 Brisbane Call for Papers and Panels [Deadline 25 October]

The next IPSA World Congress will be held in Brisbane, Australia, in July 2018. The deadline for all paper and panel proposals is 25 October. RC33 is warmly welcoming proposals that fit its remmit. For further details on the topics we are interested in and submission guidelines, please see this document.

We look forward to your submissions and to seeing you in Brisbane!

04Sep 2017

In Memoriam Thierry DIAS COELHO (1975-2017)

By Bob Reinalda, RC33 Executive Member, 28 August 2017

It was at the World Congress of the International Political Science Association (IPSA) of July 2014 in Montreal, Canada that Thierry and I met. We exchanged interests, such as Thierry’s focus on elites and corruption as well as his research on mapping political science in Portugal (together with others). At the Montreal Congress, I was convener of a ‘Special Session on Political Science: Current Performance and Future Strength’, organized by IPSA Research Committee number 33, which deals with the Study of Political Science as a Discipline. During the Congress the Executive Committee of RC33 discussed the possibility of producing a worldwide State of the Art of Political Science by providing information on regions and countries. Thierry and I decided to cooperate and we started to make an inventory of articles, discussing the development of the discipline in specific countries and regions. We began in a very simple way by setting up lists of titles of articles and books, which we were aware of. We also looked at places where we could find additional information, such as UNESCO and IPSA. We developed the project by exchanging e-mails, lists and ideas, and the first thing that struck me was that Thierry had this special sense for details, needed for producing full and coherent bibliographies. The second thing that impressed me was his thinking about a proper website and, maybe even more important, the management related to technical website questions. We fed our lists into the system he was developing, while Thierry also began a thorough search in several web platforms, such as Web of Science, JSTOR and Google Scholar, by using keywords, such as ‘political science in’, ‘study of politics’, etc., with over 8,000 references as a first result. Thierry called this ‘frightening’, but managed to ‘clean’ the list by refining keywords. We then ended up with 750 references, which we could handle and discuss. Other aspects to discuss were the style needed (e.g. the APSA style), longitudinal perspectives (e.g. being able to select the 1950s), several formats (SPSS, Excel, etc.), drawing maps, as well as the design of a logo which explains the project’s aim. The title of the project became GSPS, or Global Study on the Development of Political Science, with http://www.rc33ipsa-globalpolitical.science as URL (Thierry’s invention), which covers elements such as RC33, IPSA and global development of political science and uses the Internet domain name ‘.science’. The website had to be robust, according to Thierry, which meant that he kept organizing multiple attacks to discover weak spots. The two major database elements that we have constructed, available at the GSPS website, are the ‘GSPS Bibliographical Dataset’ and ‘GSPS General Information - Guidelines’. The Bibliographic Dataset allows to find all titles, arranged by country, continent and regions, as well as international political science association, while the Dataset also has a Search Function. The website was launched in October 2015 (see https://www.ipsa.org/news/news/ipsa-rc33-presents-global-study-development-political-science) and well received, including suggestions and titles to be added. While we were planning updates, further elements to add to the website as well as a conference panel, Thierry fell ill. Although he felt almost back to normal after a break of several weeks in early 2016, the cancer proved stronger than Thierry. Hence, we could not continue the project and, after prolonged illness, Thierry passed away in August 2017. The RC33 and academia have lost a remarkable and talented researcher and fine colleague. As far as I know, he graduated in law first, at Université de Paris 1, Panthéon-Sorbonne, and then studied political science at Universidade Nova de Lisboa, where he enrolled in the PhD Programme in Political Science. He also was a visiting researcher at the European University Institute in Florence, Italy, while working on his dissertation on Elites, Corruption and Democracy: Portugal in a Comparative Perspective 1995-2010. Typically, an internationally oriented modern scholar. I remember Thierry as a fine, modest and intelligent person, working very precisely and full of humour. So sad that he had to suffer that much and die far too young.



21Apr 2017

RC33 panels at ALACIP 2017

RC33 will sponsor four panels at the 9th congress of the Latin American Association of Political Science (Asociación Latinoamericana de Ciencia Política, ALACIP), which will be held in Montevideo from 26 to 28 July 2017. The panels will be part of a Symposium on the History and Development of Political Science in Latin America, organised by the Research Group on the History of Political Science in Latin America. The full program can be found by following this link. More information on the congress can be found on the ALACIP's website.


15Mar 2017

RC33 call for papers for IPSA Hannover conference (December 2017)

IPSA is organising an interim conference on "Political Science in the Digital Age" in Hannover, Germany, in December 2017. All the information about this event may be found on its website.

The conference is of great interest to RC33, as it pays special attention to the way in which digitalisation shapes the discipline. The RC therefore plans to submit three panel proposals, whose broad themes are summarised below. Should you be interested in presenting a paper in one of these sessions, please get in touch with and send a short abstract to the panel organisers as soon as possible, so we can organise this in the best possible way. The deadline for this is Wednesday 5 April at the latest. 

Academic inequality produced/contained/reshaped by digitalisation. 
Organiser: Thibaud Boncourt, Université libre de Bruxelles - t.boncourt@gmail.com

Digitilization has triggered several changes for the ordinary practices of political scientists. With the development of online resources, the discipline has, like other fields, seen the rise of a digital divide between scholars in different institutions and parts of the world. In parallel, the development of online data bases has rendered data available where it was previously unreachable. This panel aims to explore the consequences of these evolutions, and other processes related to digitalization, for the production, containment, or reshaping of inequalities between political scientists and, more generally, academics - be they of a geographical or social nature (e.g. North-South and East-West divides; gender inequalities; etc.). 

Historicising the "digital era" in political science.
Organiser: Emily Hauptmann, Western Michigan University - emily.hauptmann@wmich.edu

Among the questions papers might explore are: What connections can be drawn between the increased diffusion of digitized information in the latter half of the 20th c. and changes in the methods political scientists used to study politics? More generally, how did political scientists' conceptions of sound academic knowledge about politics change during the first decades of the digital era? How has the development of data banks, big data, etc. shaped political science and neighboring disciplines? 

The Digital Age and the Challenges for Political Theory. 
Organiser: Paulo Ravecca, Universidad de la República - paulo.ravecca@cienciassociales.edu.uy

Currently science and technology are usually perceived as the key for social, and sometimes political, progress. In trying to resemble the natural sciences, political science has also emphasized technical innovation in methods, displacing political theory to its margins. In this context, this panel will highlight the role as well as the specific contributions of Political Theory for analysis and critical reflection in this “digital age”. It will also explore the challenges and possibilities opened by digitalization broadly understood for political theory and theorists. In short, what can political theorists offer to colleagues and the public in these times of rapid change, uncertainty and interconnection?

07Sep 2016

RC33 Business Meeting and New Board

RC33 held its Business Meeting at the Poznan 2016 World Congress. The minutes may be found here: RC33_2016_Minutes.pdf

Elections were carried out, and the new board for the 2016-2020 is as follows:
-    Thibaud Boncourt, Université libre de Bruxelles (Chair). 
-    Giliberto Capano, Scuola Normale Superiore, Florence. 
-    Luciana Ghica, University of Bucharest. 
-    Emily Hauptmann, Western Michigan University. 
-    Bahgat Korany, American University in Cairo.
-    Olga Malinova, Higher School of Economics, Moscow.
-    Paulo Ravecca, Universidad de la República (Secretary). 
-    Bob Reinalda, Radboud University, Nijmegen. 
-    John Trent, University of Ottawa (Treasurer).

13Jul 2016

RC33 Panels and Business Meeting at Poznan Congress

The RC is organizing three panels and one roundtable at the upcoming World Congress:

Political Regimes, Power Relations and the Develoment(s) of Social Science 
Convenor: Paulo Ravecca
Sunday 24 July 17:30-19:15
Poznań Congress Center, Pavilion 15 (PCC-15) 1.9

Concepts and Measurements in the Study of Political Transformations
Convenor: Mikhail Ilyin
Monday 25 July 9:00-10:45
Poznań Congress Center, Pavilion 15 (PCC-15) 108  

Who, What, How? Getting the Big Picture: The Study of Political Science as a Discipline over Time 
Convenor: Thierry Dias Coelho
Tuesday 26 July 9:00-10:45
Poznań Congress Center, Pavilion 15 (PCC-15) 2.4 

Roundtable on Robert Adcock’s “Liberalism and the Emergence of American Political Science. A Transatlantic Tale” (OUP, 2014) 
Convenor: Thibaud Boncourt
Wednesday 27 July 9:00-10:45  
Poznań Congress Center, Pavilion 7 (PCC-7) 1.B 

The RC's Business Meeting will be held on Wednesday 27 July, from 15:30 to 17:15 (PCC-15, room 1.8). 

For more detailed information, see the RC program on the IPSA website:     https://wc2016.ipsa.org/events/istanbul2016/session/rc33-study-political-science-discipline

We look forward to seeing you there!

28Oct 2015

RC33 Global Study on the Development of Political Science (GSPS) Release


Dear all, 

We proudly present the GSPS project, or ‘Global Study on the Development of Political Science’. 

The IPSA Research Committee 33 (on the ‘Study of Political Science as a Discipline’) wants to contribute to the Global Study on the Development of Political Science by providing an overview of the evolution of the discipline, both in countries and on continents (or parts of them). For this purpose, the GSPS project is carrying out a comprehensive analysis of publications on the state of the art of Political Science, whether these are journal articles, book sections, books, conference papers, academic dissertations or other relevant sources.
GSPS is meant as a useful tool, in two ways. First, the GSPS Databases will help to map the global development of the discipline over time and allow recognizing both national and regional or continental developments. Second, the website is under constant development and open for suggestions, which will make the databases more complete.
GSPS is a ‘work in progress’ project. At the moment the bibliographic database is available, but in the short and middle terms other databases (trends of the discipline, abstracts, and data on the profession) will be available in several formats - see the Calendar under Materials.
We believe that the website’s structure speaks for itself. Explanation and materials constitute the main section. There is also a news section where you can keep up-to-date with the latest information and subscribe to our newsflash. Two social media accounts (Twitter and Facebook) have also been created for this purpose. The website also has a page with useful links to Committees & Standing Groups, international, regional and national associations, as well as some specialized journals and publishers. 
At any time, you can contact the two editors, Bob Reinalda and Thierry Dias Coelho, at info@rc33ipsa-globalpolitical.science. 
We invite you to tell everyone interested in a tool like this about GSPS - Global Study on the Development of Political Science. The link for the website is: www.rc33ipsa-globalpolitical.science. You can reach GSPS also through IPSA’s RC33 page.
On behalf of RC33 and GSPS, best regards,
Bob Reinalda (Project Coordinator)
Thierry Dias Coelho (Corresponding Editor)

01Oct 2015

IPSA World Congress, Istanbul 2016 - Call for papers (deadline: 7 October 2015)

The next IPSA World Congress will be held in Istanbul, Turkey, on July 23-28, 2016. The deadline for all paper proposals (abstracts) will be October 7th. For more information, please see: 


RC33 will have four open panels in the program: 
- "Wars and the Development of the Social Sciences". 
- "The Politics of Political Science: Political Regimes, Power and the Discipline(s)".
- "Objectifying the Subject: Reflections on the Nature of the Study of Political Science in Africa".
- "The Use of Literature in the Study of Politics". 
The abstracts may be found here: IstanbulRC33.docx. The RC also plans to add 1-3 "closed panels" (i.e. panels with invited speakers) to this programme at a later stage.

We will be happy to welcome your paper proposals for these panels! Should you wish to submit a proposal, please note that all abstracts must be submitted using the congress website: 


11Sep 2014

Minutes of the Montreal business meeting

The minutes of the RC33 business meeting in Montreal can now be consulted by following this link:

RC33 EC Minutes, Montreal, July 2014.

17Jul 2014

RC33 Special Session: "Political science: current performance and future strength"

RC33 organises a special session on "Political science: current performance and future strength" at the IPSA Montreal congress. This paper outlines five key points for discussion during the session. Its empirics are based on a book series, initiated by RC 33 and published between 2006 and 2012, on the development and current state of the various sub-disciplines, asking the question of ‘why we are where we are’ in political science.

16Jul 2014

RC33 sessions at the IPSA Montreal Congress

The RC is organizing three panels at the IPSA Montreal Congress:

  • Political Science in the Public Space;
  • Political Science in Latin America;
  • Paradigms and Historiography in Political Studies.

We will also have a joint panel (Governance, the State and Making Sense of Governing) with RC31 (Political Philosophy) and RC32 (Public Policy and Administration). In addition, there will be a Special Session on “Political Science: Current Performance and Future Strengths”, which the RC has organized for the Congress.

The detailed program is in the enclosed file.

We look forward to seeing many of you there!

RC33 Program at the IPSA Montreal Congress, July 2014

02Dec 2013

RC33 Workshop in Helsinki, December 2013: "The state of political science: diversity or unity in a globalising world?"

RC33 will organise an open workshop (four sessions) in Helsinki on 12-14 December. The workshop title is "The state of political science: diversity or unity in a globalising world?".

Workshop abstract
Our knowledge about the state of political science needs constant updating. A number of studies focusing on the discipline in different countries have appeared in recent years (e.g. papers in the IPSA 2008 world conference in Montréal). However, higher education and research structures are changing so rapidly today that many of the studies have already become outdated. Most studies are also general accounts of political science in different countries. Important as these are, there is also a need for more specific analyses. That is why the workshop will focus on the state of political science from three different perspectives: 1) the impact of recent political and economic developments on political science as a discipline, 2) the impact of recent developments in education and research on political science as a discipline, 3) the state of political science from the perspective of its sub-fields. Some of the more detailed topics include: What are the conditions for political science research under authoritarian regimes? Has the recent financial crisis changed the conditions for political science research? Have the development of the global academic market place and the marketization of higher education affected political science as a discipline? How do new educational policies, higher education reorganizations and changes in disciplinary associations affect political science as a discipline? How does political science cope with the rise of interdisciplinary studies? What is the current state of political science sub-fields (e.g. electoral studies, gender studies, international relations, political theory).

A detailed programme can be downloaded from the conference website.

31Jul 2012

RC33 business meeting in Madrid, July 2012

Please find enclosed the minutes of the RC33 business meeting at the IPSA congress in Madrid, in July 2012.

RC33 EC Minutes, Madrid, July 2012

16Jul 2012

Welcome to the IPSA RC33 website!

Purpose and mandate

The Research Committee for the Study of Political Science as a Discipline, commonly known as RC 33, is one of the fifty permanent research committees that comprises the bulk of the active membership of the International Political Science Association (IPSA).

RC 33 promotes theoretical and research studies on the historiography and development of political science, either on its own or in conjunction with other IPSA research committees. The committee's approach is a comparative and eclectic one; it is intended to include the theoretical concerns of philosophers of social science, sociological and anthropological views of disciplinary origins and evolution, historical, and institutional studies.

Executive Committee (2012-2016)

  • Erkki Berndtson, University of Helsinki (chair).
  • Cecilia Lesgart, National Council of Scientific and Technical Research, CONICET-Argentina (vice-chair).
  • Thibaud Boncourt, Sciences Po Bordeaux (secretary).
  • Pere Vilanova, University of Barcelona (treasurer).
  • Daniel Bouquet, University of the Republic, Uruguay (member).
  • Luciana Ghica, University of Bucharest (member).
  • Bahgat Korany, The American University in Cairo (member).
  • Olga Malinova, Russian Academy of Sciences (member).
  • Bob Reinalda, Radboud University, Nijmegen (member).
  • John Trent, University of Ottawa (ex officio).