- "The only disinterested source of funds": Embedded science, lobbying, and the NSF’s patronage of social science in the 1980s
- Number of pages
- Elizabethtown, PA/Amsterdam: Elizabethtown College/University of Amsterdam, Department of Economics
- Document type
- Working paper
- Faculty of Economics and Business (FEB)
- Amsterdam School of Economics Research Institute (ASE-RI)
Research in the social sciences received generous patronage in the late 1960s and early 1970s when social problems were particularly severe and when social sciences were seen as creating social and economic benefits. That generosity ended in the late 1970s. This essay explores the various ways by which economists reacted to and resisted the patronage cuts imposed in 1981 and in the decades to follow. Economists’ response was three fold: to engage in joint lobbying with other social scientists, to tap into their authority as a respected policy player, and to influence the types of research financed by the patron. Despite such efforts, economists ended up with patronage that was just as stagnant as that enjoyed by other social scientists who relied on direct lobbying alone. With interviews of the former lobbyist for the social scientists, and the former director of the Economics program for the National Science Foundation, and studying the archival records of economists and their scholarly society, we discuss the failed attempt by economists to translate their status within the polity into increased patronage. What we find is that despite popular perceptions of a high public and political status for economics, the discipline’s claim to authority and privilege has failed to carry weight in the late 20th century discussion of how public research funds should be distributed.
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