Factors Influencing the Development of Political Science in Canada: A Case and a Model

Publication Date01 January 1987
AuthorJohn E. Trent
DOI10.1177/019251218700800102
Date01 January 1987
SubjectArticles
9
Factors
Influencing
the
Development
of
Political
Science
in
Canada:
A
Case
and
a
Model
JOHN
E.
TRENT
ABSTRACT.
Based
on
a
literature
review,
this
study
provides
an
overview
of
the
factors
influencing
the
development
of
political
science
in
Canada.
Inevitably,
this
approach
has
a
chronological
bias,
but
it
has
been
widened
to
take
account
of
different
perspectives
and
factors
normally
considered
external
to
the
discipline.
The
analysis
points
to
episodic
rather
than
linear
development
and
takes
account
of
the
interrelationships
and
variable
weights
of
the
social,
intellectual,
academic,
international
and
economic
climates
at
different
times.
A
model
of
development
is
presented
which,
while
limited
by
its
one-country
focus,
assembles
pertinent
variables
to
be
tested
against
experience
in
other
countries
and
certain
considerations
relevant
to
the
nurturing
of disciplines.
In
an
earlier
article
(Stein
and
Trent,
1982),
Michael
Stein
and
I
attempted
to
go
beyond
chronological
description
of
the
development
of
political
science
in
Canada
to
offer
explanations
for
its
stage
of
development
and
its
orientations.
Our
dependent
variable
is
considered
to
be
the
university-based
study
of
politics
and
government:
what
professors
do,
what
they
study
and what
they
write.
The
’Interactive
model
of
the
development
of
the
discipline’
(Figure
1)
set
out
in
that
article
suggests
that
the
distinctive
characteristics
of
political
science in
a
particular
society
are
the
result
of
influences
from
the
indigenous,
national
environment
and
from
the
international,
social
science
environment.
The
distinctive
characteristics
of
the
discipline
may,
in
turn,
impinge
on
the
host
society
and
its
political
system
as
well
as
on
the
store
of
international
social
science
knowledge.
The
present
paper
documents
and
elaborates
on
that
model.
The
Historical
Tableau
in
Canada
There
have
been
four
phases
of
political
science
development
in
Canada.
The
first
two,
from
1870
to
World
War
I
and
the
interwar
years,
reflected
the
efforts
of
individual
scholars
who
worked
on
a
hand-to-mouth
basis.
The
first
period
saw
the
introduction
of
the
traditional
social
science
disciplines
into
Canadian
universities,
mainly
in
an
imitative
manner,
from
Great
Britain.
The
1920s
and
1930s
were
a
Canadianization
phase
with
more
emphasis
on
Canadian
scholarship,
problems
and
academic
institutions,
but
with
very
limited
resources
and
infrastructure.
A
third
10
Figure
1.
Model
of the
Interactive
Influence
of Support
Structures
on
the
Develofiment
of
a
Discipline.
phase
started
in
the
1940s
and
culminated
in
the
extraordinary
expansion
of
universities,
academic
personnel,
graduate
studies
and
research
funding
in
the
1960s
which
supported
the
flowering
of
major
Canadian
publications
and
social
science
institutions,
as
well
as
the
renewed
importation
of foreign
personnel
and
approaches.
The
fourth
phase,
in
the
1970s
and
1980s,
is
one
of
consolidation
and
the
adaptation
of
a
large
political
science
community
to
social
trends
and
conditions.
Within
the
discipline,
growing
specialization,
fragmentation
and
dependency
has
started
to
give
way
to
new
efforts
at
integration
and
Canadianization.
Outside
of
it,
the
breakdown
in
the
honeymoon
between
social
science
and
society
(or
at
least
the
elites)
has
led,
first,
to
criticism
and
declining
support
and,
later,
to
demands
for
social
relevance
(Trent,
1984).
C.
B.
Macpherson
(1938:
157-165)
has
offered
explanations
(and
lamentations)
about
the
early
years
of
the
discipline
in
Canada.
His
general
observations
were
that
politics
had
a
less
substantial
place
than
other
social
studies
in
the
early
years,
and
that
from
1870
to
1900
it
was
treated
from
a
philosophical
angle,
then
enlarged
by
constitutional
law
and
history.
The
next
decades
produced
studies
on
the
structure
and
process
of
government
with
increased
emphasis
on
Canadian
political
problems
starting
in
the
1930s.
For
this
episodic
progression
of
intellectual
orientations
Macpherson
offers
a
chronological
set
of
explanations.
’It
is
not
difficult’,
he
writes,
’to
see
them
as
related
in
the
first
instance
to
Canadian
academic
development,
and
more
broadly
as
resulting
from
Canadian
social
developments’
(1938:
156,
my
italics).
Among
the
academic
influences,
Macpherson
noted
some
that
were
international
and
some
that
were
national.
As
Canadian
universities
followed
the
British
model,
political
philosophy
was
fitted
in
as
part
of
the
all-round
training
of
a
gentleman.
Later
it
was
justified
in
local
terms
as
a
training
for
future
generations
of
public
men.

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