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This forum is clearly full of highly talented and highly motivated political scientists. May many of you become great scholars! I thought I'd take the opportunity and ask:

 

What do you find the most exciting Political Science research?

Any books or articles in particular that made you want to become a researcher yourself?

Any pieces of work every future political science scholar should have read?

Anything particularly novel and innovative?

 

It would be great if many of you would share your favorites - as this forum clearly is a source of information and motivation to many.

Edited by guest2401
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Very tough question.  My favorite book in all of grad school has been Jack Knight's Institutions and Social Conflict.  Really great book.  While I disagree with much of what he has to say (both substantively and about the nature and role of formal theory), anything by Thomas Schelling (most notably The Strategy of Conflict and Arms and Influence) probably constitutes required reading.  

 

For personal reasons, I will be very interested to see where the John Mueller/John Gaddis/Francis Fukuyama/Steven Pinker/Bear Braumoeller conversation on war in the system leads.  

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I often get too excited about the stuff I am reading at the moment. Heart rate rises, I smile a lot, I want to talk about it with everyone (luckily, I have a very patient SO). Unfortunately, however, the more time it passes since I first read something, the less exciting it becomes for me. When I first read Imagined Communities it was the coolest thing. Now I don't feel the appeal whatsoever. No offense intended, of course - I am just revealing my absolute lack of wit and tact. Right now, I am reading Wagner's War and the State (tip o' the hat to coach), and I genuinely think this one is surely one of the best out there.

 

Who knows what I'll think next week.

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For inspiration: James Scott's Weapons of the Weak or Seeing Like a State.  Brilliant.

 

In terms of edited volumes: Katzenstein's Culture of National Security

 

For examples of excellent thinking and concise writing: Martha Finnemore's Purpose of Intervention and Fearon's "Rationalist Explanations of War"

Edited by Midwestern
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See, I tend to be the opposite way.  I hate almost everything when I read it at first, and usually the first few times.  Then I come to like some of it.  It's kind of like John Coltrane or James Joyce. 

 

John Coltrane? Are you serious? the man makes the sax sing sweet mellifluous notes. Now if you're talking about his religious revival music, then perhaps yes, it needs to be better understood first before making a valuation, but My Favorite Things and Central Park West are so so sweet sounding for both the uninitiated and expert alike

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I'm not a political scientist by discipline but I'm reading Jane Bennett's Vibrant Matter right now and finding it a great read. My IR/Poli Sci friends seem to really like it as well.

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As far as a classics that all poli sci (particularly comparativists) people should read: 

 

- Political Order in Changing Societies by Samuel P. Huntington. Probably one of the best works on institutions in the entire field. 

An Economic Theory of Democracy by Anthony Downs. One of the pioneer works of rational choice theory in political science.

Modernization and Bureaucratic-Authoritarianism by Guillermo O'Donnell. Completely shattered the theory that modernization was conducive to democratization.

Parties and Party Systems by Giovanni Sartori. First systematic classification of party systems.

Building Democratic Institutions: Party Systems in Latin America by Scott Mainwaring and Timothy R. Scully. Regarded as one of the foremost works on measuring party system institutionalization.

 

My personal favourites are Democracy without Equity: Failures of Reform in Brazil by Kurt Weyland and Rethinking Party Systems in the Third Wave of Democratization: The Case of Brazil by Scott Mainwaring. I have many others, especially a bunch of edited books where I fell in love with specific chapters rather than the book itself.

 

As far as my inspiration for wanting to pursue political science was definitely the above mentioned 'Party Systems in Latin America'. It basically turned me into being interested in political parties in Latin America and the various effects that different party systems can have on other political phenomenon. 

Edited by HopefulComparativist
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Oh, I (and many others) really like Gambetta's The Sicilian Mafia.  Very good read, very readable, makes you better at dinner parties.

 

And I was talking about, like, A Love Supreme Coltrane.  But even if you just put on, like, Kind of Blue, you end up going like "OK, Miles is easy to listen to, Cannonball is easy to listen to, Bill Evans is easy to listen to, GOOD GOOD WHAT IS THIS HONKING WITH ALL THE NOTES."  I should note that I play way too many notes in an attempt to do the same sort of thing.

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  • 3 weeks later...

My personal favorite is Philip Converse's "The Nature of Belief Systems in Mass Publics." Ever wonder why people vote for Democrats one year, Republicans the next, then Democrats again? It's because a whole lot of people have no real political convictions at all!

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My personal favorite is Philip Converse's "The Nature of Belief Systems in Mass Publics." Ever wonder why people vote for Democrats one year, Republicans the next, then Democrats again? It's because a whole lot of people have no real political convictions at all!

 

Lies, citizens are "competent enough" because they use heuristics  :ph34r:

 

Don't hit me.

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