Maestri of Political Science

Maestri of Political Science


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Maestri of Political Science by Donatella Campus

This book continues the editors' work (started in the volume “Masters of Political Science”) of highlighting and re-evaluating the contributions of the most important political scientists who have gone before. Its basis is the belief that the future development and sophistication of the discipline will benefit from a critical understanding of the works of early political “giants” whose contributions are presented and analysed: Gabriel A. Almond, Raymond Aron, Philip Converse, Maurice Duverger, Stanley Hoffmann, Paul Lazarsfeld, Arend Lijphart, Elinor 'strom, William H. Riker, Stein Rokkan and Susan Strange. The editors review and consider the contributions of these maestri to the study of contemporary democracy, political culture, electoral systems, political communication, the transformation of capitalism and state formation in Europe. Maestri of Political Science is aimed not only at a new generation of political scientists but is a valuable opportunity for established scholars to see new light through old windows.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781907301193
Publisher: ECPR Press
Publication date: 06/01/2011
Pages: 256
Product dimensions: 6.10(w) x 9.20(h) x 0.60(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Donatella Campus is Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of Bologna. She is the author of L'elettore pigro. Informazione politica e scelte di voto (Mulino, 2000); L'antipolitica al governo (Mulino, 2006); Comunicazione Politica: Le nuove Frontiere (2008). Gianfranco Pasquino is Professor of Political Science at the University of Bologna. He also teaches at the Bologna Center of the Johns Hopkins. Since 2005 he has been a member of the Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei. His most recent book is Le istituzioni di Arlecchino (2008, 5th ed.). He has also edited L'Elezione del segretario, Organizzazione e potere (2009).

European Consortium for Political Research Press

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Maestri of Political Science Volume 2

By Donatella Campus, Gianfranco Pasquino, Martin Bull

ECPR Press

Copyright © 2011 Campus, Pasquino and Bull
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-910259-02-3


Gabriel A. Almond: Comparative Politics and Political Development

Gianfranco Pasquino


Gabriel Abraham Almond (Rock Island, Illinois, 12 January, 1911 – Asilomar, California, 25 December, 2002) had a long and productive life, rich in scholarly enterprises and professional achievements. Most certainly he was one of the most influential American political scientists of the 20th century both as author and coauthor of books and research studies, that have left an imprint on the discipline. As cultural organiser and mentor, he was able to recruit, for research purposes in visible roles, young promising collaborators, as shown especially by the successful professional trajectories of two of them: Sidney Verba and G. Bingham Powell Jr, who joined him in two major works: The Civic Culture and Comparative Politics; a developmental approach. His academic career was unique, certainly not repeatable, blessed by lucky encounters and events, as it appears clearly from the brief profile that he himself drew without complacency, but with great satisfaction and a sense of fulfilment (Almond 1987).

Son and grandson of rabbis who had migrated from Russia and the Ukraine, Almond attended the University of Chicago between 1928 and 1938 taking his Ph.D, having written a dissertation that, contrary to yesterday's and today's American usages and requirements of any academic career, could not immediately find a publication outlet. Even the publication of the only article reporting the dense work performed by Almond (1945), though in a manner that did not do justice to the originality and the richness of the research of the dissertation, had to wait several years. For several reasons, among which a significant difference of opinion between Almond and Charles Merriam, the powerful Dean of the Department of Political Science, concerning the perspective to be given to the revision of the dissertation in order to have it published, postponed indefinitely its publication. Merriam was afraid that the wealthy and powerful New Yorkers who were financing the University of Chicago would be unhappy with the content and the overall framework, certainly not flattering for them, depicted by Almond. Hence, his dissertation saw the light of day only sixty years later, published with the title Plutocracy and Politics in New York City (1998) when the situation had changed and, of course, the protagonists had disappeared.

Naturally, the academic impact of the dissertation on the theory of democracy in the changed times of New York and US politics went largely unnoticed. Nevertheless, the volume retains several features of interest. First, the choice of the title which refers to the power that inevitably derives from wealth, suggests very clearly that Almond, at least partially influenced by Marxist opinions, had come to the realisation that, up to that period (the late 1930s), in New York city there had not been a true democracy, that is, an open competition among different groups capable and willing to rotate and replace each other in the government of the Big Apple. On the contrary, the young Almond argued that wealthy New Yorkers occupied powerful positions such as to make it very difficult for the politicians of New York to obtain and exercise any decision-making autonomy. Moreover, generally speaking, those politicians did not enjoy any social prestige comparable to that enjoyed by the wealthy ones. For this reason, whenever making important decisions New York politicians felt it necessary to secure the support of the wealthy people.

The second feature of interest in Almond's dissertation is to be found in the theoretical framework he utilised. Almond declares explicitly his intellectual debt to the theorists of the ruling elite: Mosca, Pareto, Michels, but also Weber and Marx. In this matter, though, one should not underestimate the influence of Harold Lasswell, who first supervised Almond's dissertation. His influence is visible both in the techniques applied to the analysis of the elites and in the inclination to look for explanations relying on psychological factors, those descending from personality and culture, precisely sectors in which Lasswell was then working and showing significant originality and extraordinary energy.

Third, it is Almond himself who stressed how his study had aimed at identifying and highlighting the possible transformations through time of the N.Y. élites and politics, by resorting to an appropriate reformulation of the so-called 'process approach'. Finally, one cannot but admire young Almond's capability to dig, collect, bring to the surface an enormous mass of data, extracted from a multiplicity of sources available in the grand mine of material that was and remains the New York Public Library, and of bringing them together in a systematic manner to offer an all round view and interpretation of the NY political situation before World War II and of the complex relationships between plutocrats and politicians. Plutocracy and Politics constituted also, in a special way, and continues to represent, even today, a model of theoretically informed empirical research on political and economic elites and on their control and exercise of concrete power.

Unfortunately, the fact that his dissertation was not published for a long time and was not available to other scholars meant that Almond forfeited the opportunity for his analysis to be taken into consideration when, starting in the early 1950s, a lively and fierce debate took place among the elitists, the pluralists and the neo-elitists on the existence, or not, of a 'power elite'. By that time, in any case, Almond's research interests had gone off in a rather different direction.


In the period between the 1920s and the outbreak of World War One, under the vigorous leadership of Charles A. Merriam and the contributions of several other famous scholars such as Harold Gosnell (1896–1996), the then relatively young Harold D. Lasswell (1902–1978), the International Relations specialist Quincy Wright (1890–1970) and one of the most original students of American Politics, V.O. Key, Jr. (1908–1963), the Department of Political Science of the University of Chicago was highly innovative, very productive and clearly oriented, through behavioralism, to tackle relevant socio-political problems applying a reformist approach. There is no doubt, and Almond himself stressed this point repeatedly, that his formative experience was significantly marked by his scholarly and cultural relationships with that remarkable group of scholars and, especially, with Lass-well. Among other things, it was in collaboration with Lasswell that Almond came to publish his first scholarly article (1934) based on a careful empirical gathering of data as well as on his participant observation of the phenomena to be analysed. In order to pay for his college education, Almond had looked for a job and found it in the Department of the City of Chicago that was dealing with assistance to the unemployed. And this is what he decided to study.

Later, after a couple of years in which he had, too intensely and with insufficient gratification, taught the same courses on the political system of the USA at Brooklyn College in New York, Almond was invited in 1941 by Lasswell to join the Bureau of Intelligence of the Office of Facts and Figures. Among other activities, he was charged with the collection of information on Germany, Italy and, more in general, on those areas of Europe occupied by the Nazis, and afterwards on the 'morale' of the Germans who had suffered Allied bombing. At the end of World War Two, the young professor of Political Science was asked, partly because of his knowledge of German, to go to Germany in order to interrogate the functionaries of the police and of the Gestapo and to study their relationships as well as to interview the survivors of the German Resistance and to record the activities they had carried out in Nazi Germany. In this period, the idea was born of a book largely devoted to the (re)construction of democracy in Germany (Almond 1949) in which, though in a preliminary and tentative manner, Almond made early use of some conceptual tools that can be defined as belonging to the field of 'political culture' (Almond and Kraus 1949a; Kraus and Almond 1949). More precisely, he attempted to understand the impact of the attitudes, orientations and objects of reference of political culture on the formation and functioning of a democracy. The report on his research activities in those very peculiar circumstances was fortuitously recovered several years later and published together with a short explanatory note (Almond and Kraus 1999). When writing this report, Almond came into contact with some scholars working at the National Opinion Research Center of Chicago, who would then give birth to the extremely important and influential Survey Research Center of the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor. In Almond's words, this period represented his 'post-doctoral training'.

In 1947 Almond made his return to the academic world, accepting the offer made to him by Yale University to teach and do research at the Institute of International Studies. During his sojourn he wrote his first important book, The American People and Foreign Policy (1950), putting to good use his conceptual and theoretical behaviouralist baggage. As a matter of fact, not only was Almond the first to analyse the vast mass of data made available by opinion surveys concerning the 'interest in' and the 'understanding of' foreign policy by the American people, he also formulated a clear-cut distinction of enduring relevance between the general attitudes of the 'American people' and those of the 'attentive public'. The American people are naturally less interested in foreign policy and, therefore, exposed to fluctuations in mood while the attentive public, endowed with the instruments necessary to understand the problematique of foreign policy, is much more stable in its inclinations and evaluations. Though, today, substantially neglected and appreciated only by the best specialists of US foreign policy, in addition to the important above-mentioned methodological and interpretative distinction, Almond's analysis remains remarkable and also contains many elements that are significant to a better understanding of his subsequent work. First, The American People and Foreign Policy is devoted to an analytical and political problem highly relevant, then and now. Without ever exaggerating the political relevance of his analysis, Almond was always committed to the purpose of acquiring knowledge for use in improving the functioning of political systems and democracy. Second, this purpose is pursued by a first-class empirical researcher who starts with a theoretical perspective and resorts to the gathering and the utilisation of survey data in order to test the validity of the theory. Third, Almond shows a fruitful attention to the overall psychological characteristics of the 'American public' with a view to explaining the differences in motivation and frequent fluctuations. Lasswell's influence, the scholar who formulated the first, concrete and original analyses of political psychology, is crystal clear, visible, and enduring. Also, it appears essential to the explanation. In any case, Lasswell's was not, as I have underlined above, a passing influence.

In 1950, Almond moved to Princeton together with the entire Institute of International Studies. He remained at Princeton from 1954 to 1959. In that period he published an important and somewhat controversial study, The Appeals of Communism (1954). It was the product of research that had lasted several years on the attitudes, orientations, and ideology of four representative samples of former members of the Communist Parties of the USA, Great Britain, France, and Italy. The material had been collected resorting to a variety of methods and data: in-depth interviews with former Communists, opinion surveys and content analysis of relevant documents. This study too must be located in the research tradition for it to be defined as 'political psychology', which was launched and practised by Lasswell, who is duly and explicitly thanked in the preface. Those were the McCarthy years in the USA which in all likelihood accounted for the willingness and interest of the Carnegie Foundation in funding a study of this kind, with the obvious objective of acquiring operational knowledge.

Nevertheless, there does not seem to be much that could be used for propaganda purposes in this research by Almond and his collaborators (Herbert E. Krugman, Elsbeth Lewin and Howard Wriggins) and nothing that could even remotely serve a 'McCarthyist' view of politics, even though Almond does not hide the fact that his conception of democracy combines some moderation in overt political behaviour and some deference towards authority. On the contrary, there is a visible twofold attempt to understand the psychological, familiar, environmental roots and motivations that had led people into joining the Communist Party and the subsequent disaffection and abandonment, as well as to explain the differences in motivations and behaviour, relating them both to the social characteristics of the four countries and the patterns of functioning and roles of the communist parties in the USA, Great Britain, France, and Italy.

Summing up, Almond came to the conclusion that there does not exist a well defined and unique 'communist personality' endowed with sufficiently precise, and neatly designed, traits and features similar to those found at the roots of the 'authoritarian personality'. However, there exist some predispositions that have been acquired and nurtured in the context of the family and society. These, under certain specific conditions, produce a neurotic 'susceptibility'. This susceptibility is made up of hostility and resentment, feelings of isolation and rejection, that appear more visible and conspicuous the greater the distance between the positions taken by the party and those of its respective society. Pushing this explanation to the extremes, one could add that Almond identifies, albeit indirectly, though with foresight, the phenomenon of the existence of a 'counter-society'. This is how Annie Kriegel (1985), who, as a former member of the Party, had inside knowledge, decided to define the French Communist Party. For a not insubstantial period this definition would also fit rather well, though with a lower, but not insignificant, intensity, the case of the Italian Communist Party.

Several years later, in a report presented to the annual conference of the American Political Science Association in 1962, but published much later, Almond (2002) drew a comparison between the findings of his research and those (much criticised and highly controversial) of others done in the same period, that had acquired more or less justifiably greater fame – The Authoritarian Personality. In his short, but very dense article, Almond dismisses, scathingly, the misplaced criticisms addressed against his analysis. He had never maintained that the dominant features of former Communists, as well as of those who remained Communists, were essentially aspects of the 'neurotic personality'. Almond especially highlights the lack of understanding by the authors of The Authoritarian Personality of the social and political context in which personalities of this type could (can) make their appearance, consolidate and expand themselves. As is well known, the problem of the origins of different personality types, in the family, in society, the psychological factors, and their political expression, remains fully open. Re-reading at the same time The Appeals of Communism and The Authoritarian Personality continues to represent a useful, perhaps indispensable, by all means fruitful, point of departure for those who desire better to understand some characteristics of political extremism at the two opposing poles.


Excerpted from Maestri of Political Science Volume 2 by Donatella Campus, Gianfranco Pasquino, Martin Bull. Copyright © 2011 Campus, Pasquino and Bull. Excerpted by permission of ECPR Press.
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Table of Contents


Introduction Donatella Campus, Gianfranco Pasquino and Martin Bull,
Chapter 1 – Gabriel A. Almond: Comparative Politics and Political Development Gianfranco Pasquino,
Chapter 2 – Raymond Aron or the Three Dimensions of Political Science: Critical Philosophy of History, Political Sociology and Theory of International Relations Stephen Launay,
Chapter 3 – Philip Converse: Normalising the Vote and Voting Studies Jocelyn Evans,
Chapter 4 – Maurice Duverger: A Law, a Hypothesis and a Paradox Robert Elgie,
Chapter 5 – Stanley Hoffmann: Managing the Unmanageable: A Concern for World Order Martin A. Schain,
Chapter 6 – Paul Lazarsfeld: The Founder of Empirical Electoral Research Donatella Campus,
Chapter 7 – Arend Lijphart: Power Sharing and the Pursuit of a Kinder and Gentler Democratic Society Hans Keman,
Chapter 8 – Elinor Ostrom: Politics as Problem-Solving in Polycentric Settings Michael D. McGinnis,
Chapter 9 – William H. Riker: and the Building of a Science of Politics (Positive Political Theory) Daniela Giannetti,
Chapter 10 – Stein Rokkan: The Macro-Sociological Fresco of State, Nation and Democracy in Europe Daniele Caramani,
Chapter 11 – Susan Strange: The Authority of Questioning Eugenia Baroncelli,

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