ORIGINS, CURRICULUM ASSUMPTIONS AND ACTIVITIES OF THE PERESTROIKA MOVEMENT IN AMERICAN POLITICAL SCIENCE
Model of methodological and theoretical pluralism, developed after the behavioral revolution, allows different methods and purposes of approach in research of political spheres of social life. For many years, it seemed that the current consensus is not threatened, that the acceptance of the status quo is widespread. As it turned out, however, post-behavioral order and peace were hiding under the surface of old conflicts and contradictions, and generated new ones. Somewhat like 100 years ago, at the beginning of the new century, they flowed on the surface – colliding with each other – as completely different visions of policy research, based on a different meaning of objectivity and truth and the role that the gained knowledge plays in the society.
In October 2000, to a dozen American political scientists and publishers of professional magazines there was sent an e-mail, signed “Mr. Perestroika”, containing harsh criticism of the system of forces existing in the American political science, under which there is a strong dominance of representatives of science-oriented mathematical modeling and quantitative methods, and representatives of other approaches are being discriminated against. This letter, commonly called the “Perestroika Manifesto”, has rapidly spread in the network, gaining a few hundred followers within a few weeks. It became the nucleus of an informal Perestroika Movement, which brought together a larger group of political scientists dissatisfied with the current model of discipline.
They performed against the domination of investigator-driven assumptions of logical positivism and radical behaviorism, based on the assumption that it is possible to predict the political behavior on the basis of the theories of rationality. They also questioned focusing on discovering universal, independent of context, truths about politics, based on testing causal hypotheses with regard to the behavior of political actors and the quest to build a general theory. Th is results in their opinion that there is the marginalization of other studies aimed at clarifying and resolving specifi c issues and, on the other hand, the need of search for a more explicit link between theory and practice.
Supporters of the Perestroika Movement do not reject entirely quantitative methods, only tend to criticize their absolutizing character, involving the complete discrediting of approaches which are not referring to the quantifi cation of data or treating this type of treatment only as a complementary knowledge considerations based on normative narrative. Th erefore, they generally tend to the concept of methodological triangulation, in which quantitative techniques may complement and partially be a form of verifi cation of qualitative methods in various research issues, of course, if you can combine both types of approaches.
Th ey are clearly in favor of the primacy of the essence of research method. From this point of view, based on compliance with the applicable rules of methodological research, they do not have to be in this respect particularly innovative, hyper-precise or mathematicised. Th ey should, however, contain a well-constructed argumentation, allowing reliably resolve important issues. Th e result should be to restore compounds research and theoretical knowledge with the real problems of political life, moving away from the extreme containment and academic character towards the relationship of knowledge about politics of social practice.