We were perusing the web today and ran into an interesting article by Stephen M. Walt over at Foreign Policy. His argument? Many of your favorite IR Kritik theorists are failing to produce policy-relevant research because of something so mundane as … rankings?
Why does so much of the academic writing on international affairs seem to be of little practical value, mired in a “cult of irrelevance”? Is it because IR scholars are pursuing a misleading model of “science,” patterned after physics, chemistry, or biology? Or is it because many prominent academics fear criticism and are deathly afraid of being controversial, and prefer to hide behind arcane vocabulary, abstruse mathematics, or incomprehensible postmodern jargon? Both motivations are probably at work to some degree, but I would argue that academics are for the most part just responding to the prevailing incentive structures and metrics that are used to evaluate scholarly merit.
Given how the rankings are calculated, in short, it is inevitable that most political scientists concentrate on writing things that hardly anyone reads. Via Foreign Policy.
The entire article is worth a read; he makes some excellent points about how the theoretical world and policy world are drifting away from one another so much so that most IR K authors have been bracketed from the conversation over how things actually get done. I could be wrong, but I’m sensing some Kritik answer cards on the horizon …