U.S. Intellectual History Blog


Shaky foundationsShaky Foundations: The Politics-Patronage-Social Science Nexus in Cold War America is Mark Solovey’s latest book. An assistant professor at the University of Toronto’s Institute for the History and Philosophy of Science and Technology, Solovey is the co-editor of Cold War Social Science: Knowledge Production, Liberal Democracy, and Human Nature and a new member of S-USIH.  Christopher Shannon reviewed this book for the blog.  Shaky Foundations comes to us from Rutgers University Press and is available now.

According to the pre-publication press for Solovey’s book, it is the first extensive examination of a new patronage system for the social sciences that emerged in the early Cold War years and took more definite shape during the 1950s and early 1960s, a period of enormous expansion in American social science.

Solovey focuses on the military, the Ford Foundation, and the National Science Foundation to show how this patronage system presented social scientists and other interested parties, including natural scientists and politicians, with new opportunities to work out the scientific identity, social implications, and public policy uses of academic social research. He also examines significant criticisms of the new patronage system, which contributed to widespread efforts to rethink and reshape the politics–patronage–social science nexus starting in the mid-1960s.

Based on extensive archival research, Shaky Foundations addresses fundamental questions about the intellectual foundations of the social sciences, their relationships with the natural sciences and the humanities, and the political and ideological import of academic social inquiry.

One Thought on this Post

  1. Definitely not the first (there’s Inderjeet Parmar, Foundations of the American Century: The Ford, Carnegie, and Rockefeller Foundations in the Rise of American Power, Columbia University Press, New York, 2012) but likely to be much the best entry on the subject, since he’s been working on the book for 15+ years.

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