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Journal Article

Government Influence on the Social Science Paradigm

Michael Useem
The Sociological Quarterly
Vol. 17, No. 2 (Spring, 1976), pp. 146-161
Published by: Wiley on behalf of the Midwest Sociological Society
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/4105601
Page Count: 16
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Government Influence on the Social Science Paradigm
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Abstract

A scientific paradigm includes a set of widely shared understandings that specify a discipline's research methodologies and substantive priorities. The impact of government sponsorship of academic social research on the paradigms of four social science disciplines is evaluated using a probability sample of 1,079 faculty members in the fields of anthropology, economics, political science, and psychology. The results indicate that federal government funding is allocated according to topical and methodological priorities that are distinct from the disciplines' self-defined priorities. It is also found that: (1) federal support of academic research has a significant impact on the substantive and methodological plans of social scientists; (2) social scientists who are financially dependent on government assistance are particularly responsive to government influence; (3) the condition of financial dependency on govern funding is in part a product of prior federal investment in social research. An "externalist" thesis holds that the scientific paradigm is not autonomous and is significantly shaped by such outside factors as the political system, and these findings provide support for this thesis.

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