The worlds of politics and political science can be complicated and frustrating at times. Both the people who study politics (the academics) and those who practice politics (the practitioners) often find themselves united over a common grievance: that the underlying theories, concepts and thinkers that shape our political world are – at times – confusing and unclear. Indeed, recently even some political scientists have taken aim at their own discipline, criticising (some) academics for indulging in too much ‘methodological masturbation’, publishing their research in only a handful of esoteric journals and failing to engage with a wider audience outside of the ivory towers. Political scientists, argue academics such as Matthew Flinders, have a social obligation to communicate their research and its findings to a wider audience, and in an accessible fashion. Listening to this more recent wave of criticism reminded me of the earlier observation by John Gerring, namely that social science should not be for social science’s sake, but rather social science is science for society’s sake.
This debate provides a useful backdrop to one initiative that we launched at Nottingham some time ago, but which has (until now) largely escaped the wider world. ‘Politics in 60 seconds’ aims to offer a coherent and clear introduction for non-specialists to some of the core concepts, approaches and thinkers in modern political science. No one School of Politics can cover everything, but as one of the largest in the country we have been able to compile a rather healthy stable of introductory videos.
Over the coming weeks, we will be publishing these videos on the blog. For readers, it represents an opportunity to sharpen their political knowledge. For our School, it represents an opportunity to show the wider world what we do, and why the study of politics is about so much more than dusty library shelves and hour-long lectures. We begin with an introduction to the series…..