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Science and democracy

The emergence of political science as a rigorously and self-consciously ‘scientific’ discipline is most commonly dated back to its remaking in the United States after World War II. This narrative has since its beginning been accompanied by a counter-narrative that places the theoretical and methodological innovations of the time in the context of Cold War anxieties, the challenges posed by the new global leadership of the United States, and opportunities arising from skyrocketing social science research funding (Crick 1959, Gunnell 1993, Cravens 2012). Yet what is conspicuously missing in historical research on this mid-century disciplinary remake – associated mostly even if somewhat inaccurately with the 4 Liisi Keedus emergence of political behavioralism1 – is an account of its rhetorical and discursive dimensions that, this essay sets out to argue, played by no means an insignificant role, either for its audience, or for the morale of the innovators themselves. Evidence for the boosting role of wordcraft can be found in many texts, but is particularly overt in hortatory texts such as speeches, introductions and conclusions, statements of research agendas and proposals, and, above all, in texts addressed to and circulated within funding agencies. These sources rarely figure in accounts of the remaking of the discipline, while they express a crucial facet of the scientific-political imagination of the period.