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Relevant to Whom? Relevant for What? The Role and Public Responsibility of the Political Analyst

Abstract : Like most bons mots, relevance is a seemingly unimpeachable virtue, an attribute one would like conferred upon one’s work, and something only others lack. Yet it is not always clear what relevance actually is; nor, relatedly, what might make a work of political analysis irrelevant. In this chapter I reflect on the question of relevance/irrelevance, considering what it might mean for political analysis to be seen or judged relevant — noting, in the process, both that relevance is a property or attribute that can really only be bestowed by others and that it tends to be task or, at least, context-specific. I will consider how a political science more clearly oriented to the attainment of relevance might differ from the one we have today. In the process I consider whether political science requires a paradigm shift in order to enhance its capacity to attain relevance, reflecting on the implied identification by its critics of a ‘crisis of irrelevance’ associated with the old paradigm. I look at how political science might engage better with its current audiences, extend the range of audiences with which it engages and, in the process, change at least some of its content and form. Yet I will suggest that, in the end, this entails no paradigm shift: that little if any contemporary political science is irrelevant — but that most of it could be made both more relevant and relevant to many more.
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Colin Hay. Relevant to Whom? Relevant for What? The Role and Public Responsibility of the Political Analyst. Gerry Stoker; Guy B. Peters; Jon Pierre. The Relevance of Political Science, Palgrave Macmillan, pp.50 - 65, 2015, 9780230201088. ⟨hal-02295368⟩

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