About Us

The Caucus for a New Political Science (CNPS) was founded in 1967 as a caucus within the American Political Science Association for the purpose of challenging the myth of a value-free and politically neutral social science. It became an Organized Section of the APSA in 1992 and continues to organize panels at the APSA’s annual meeting. However, as early as 1969, leading members of the Caucus proposed that insurgent political scientists should join forces with their more numerous colleagues in other disciplines such as sociology, anthropology, philosophy, history, and radical political economics, as well as with progressive colleagues in other nations, to establish a new flagship journal and to create new interdisciplinary professional associations of radical scholars.

The purpose of the journal would be to provide a platform for a new critical political science unhindered by the ideological and methodological restrictions of mainstream journals. This type of interdisciplinary association, with its own flagship journal, might eventually generate the critical mass to confront existing disciplinary associations with the specter of a dual power configuration. It was not until a decade later, in 1979, that the Caucus for a New Political Science was finally institutionalized as a separate and independent nonprofit organization outside the American Political Science Association with New Political Science: A Journal of Politics and Culture as its official journal. 

A major purpose of the CNPS biennial conference, which began in 2017 on the organization’s 50th anniversary is to once again promote the growth of the Caucus for a New Political Science outside, but parallel to the American Political Science Association (APSA) with a competing vision of political science. In the past, particularly in 1980s, the CNPS made numerous efforts to expand its role beyond the APSA by sponsoring local chapters and regional mini-conferences, an annual “June Conference” of its representative Assembly, and a major conference at Brown University (1975), while also attempting to institutionalize a CNPS presence at regional political science association meetings (e.g., the Northeastern, Western, and Midwestern Political Science Associations). 

I.  PURPOSES OF THE CONFERENCE FOR A NEW POLITICAL SCIENCE 

A. To promote a fundamental redefinition of the purposes, categories, and politics of political science.

This is one of the original purposes of the Caucus for a New Political Science, but: 

  • 8 to 11 panels out of 1,300 at the APSA Annual Meeting does not significantly promote this objective
  • The CNPS no longer has any members on the APSA Executive Council, nor is it likely to achieve such representation without a vigorous electoral mobilization comparable to the early 1970s

B. To expand political science into a genuinely interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary form of scholarship.

This is one of the original purposes of the Caucus for a New Political Science, but: 

  • Instead of promoting genuinely interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary scholarship, the APSA system of organized panels actually re-fragments scholars and scholarship back into isolated communities of narrow specialization, rather than promoting discussion across disciplines and sub-fields and promoting the integration of inter-disciplinary concepts and methods into the fabric of political science
  • The CNPS should actively encourage scholars from “other disciplines” to directly join the CNPS and to participate in its annual conference, listserve, etc.

C. To promote political science as engaged political action:

The APSA promotes the concept of a value-free social science and apolitical “professionalism” that is a distinct product of the discipline’s development in the 20th Century, including academic repression, but it is not an inherent characteristic of the social sciences.  The CNPS emerged intellectually from its members’ critique of the myth of value free social science and the APSA’s concept of apolitical professionalism – a form of acquiescent complacency that provides a rationalization of the status quo by ignoring salient political, economic, social, and environmental issues and their solution.

D. To promote the growth of the Caucus for a New Political Science outside the Organized Section framework of the APSA.

In 1975, the Report of the CNPS Committee on Structure established the “dual identity” of the Caucus in its conclusion that:  “Caucus members are organizationally dependent on the APSA on the one hand and therefore have critical tasks to do within the APSA (such as transformation of the American Political Science Review, democratization of APSA, extension of services and/new guidelines for Departments), but the Caucus is also an ‘independent entity’ with important new work to do outside the APSA that includes serious internal education and mass political education.” [This report was generated from discussions held during a 1975 “June Conference,” held at Bowdoin College, consisting of 40 members of the Assembly].

As a follow up, the CNPS sponsored its own conference in November 1975, held at Brown University, with the theme:  “Socialist Perspectives on Social Change in the United States.”  This was the first large conference organized by the CNPS independent of the organized panels convened at APSA meetings.  Papers were delivered by 45 scholars, but the conference was attended by hundreds of scholars and students.