The Social Sciences and Liberalism in Modern Americas

April 2010

Expanding our focus beyond the oft-studied 1870–1920 and 1950–1965 eras, and beyond the familiar nexus of fact-value separation with a technocratic or managerial mode of politics, participants in this seminar will explore the full range of interactions between the social sciences and liberalism in the modern United States.

We will discuss whether the complexities of this relationship can be captured in a single analytical frame and think about fruitful avenues for future research: new themes, new periods, new sources, and even new methodologies. Along the way, we will also place the American case in a comparative context, addressing the vexed question of American exceptionalism as it pertains to the social sciences and liberalism.

We will pay particular attention to the persistence of evangelical Christianity as a central feature of American public culture, and the strengths and weaknesses of methodological approaches rooted in intellectual history, history of science, and social sciences.