Canadian Politics

A21(d) - The Politics of Knowledge Production and Mobilization

Date: Jun 14 | Time: 03:30pm to 05:00pm | Location:

Political Science as a Dependent Variable: The National Science Foundation and the Politics of Knowledge Production: Tamir Moustafa (Simon Fraser University)
Abstract: From 1965-2020, the US National Science Foundation’s Political Science Program constituted the single largest funding source for political science research globally. As such, the NSF played a central role in defining the cutting-edge of our discipline. This paper examines the nearly three thousand projects funded over the 55-year life of the Political Science Program. It shows that the NSF leaned heavily toward research that utilized quantitative methods and, more generally, work that was firmly positivist in orientation. Research utilizing qualitative and especially interpretive methods, and work embracing normative or critical approaches, received little or no support. The dataset makes visible the material forces that shape new knowledge production and underlines the NSF’s instrumental role in consolidating behavioralism and marginalizing non-positivist approaches in American political science. The paper sheds light on the unique features of American political science, even as it exerts enormous influence on the discipline globally, including vis-a-vis Canadian political science.

Perils of Punditry: Challenges and Strategies of Public Facing Academics: Lori Williams (Mount Royal University)
Abstract: In an increasingly polarized and adversarial climate, many scholarly experts engaged in public discourse, analysis and commentary have been targeted online and through other threats, including complaints lodged with media organizations or their employers, and even lawsuits. The aim of these attacks is often to silence or discredit those contributing to public discourse. Academics targeted in these ways often seek to protect themselves, however this tends to limit their public engagement, and public discourse suffers as a result. Drawing on interviews from scholars based on their political, legal and social science expertise, my analysis will chronicle the experiences of several prominent scholarly subject matter experts, their lived experience around this issue, how best to understand and address it, what responses or strategies are needed, and who should be involved.

Canadian Political Scientists in the News: Gerald Kernerman (Cornell University)
Abstract: Political Scientists in the News: What roles do Canadian political scientists play in Canadian political news reporting? This project undertakes a preliminary exploration of this question by documenting and analyzing the contributions made by Canadian political scientists in the reporting of news during Canada’s 2021 federal election campaign. At this early stage of the research, I am compiling the full set of instances during the election campaign where print journalists from selected major Canadian English-language newspapers quoted, or paraphrased, sources they identified as political scientists. Once I have completed this process, I will proceed to analyze the ways in which the political scientists being cited influenced the journalistic accounts of Canadian electoral politics during the campaign. If the results of this initial analysis are promising, I will consider a larger-scale study that would, among other things, include interviews with the political scientists who participated most actively in Canadian political news reporting.