Putting Fire in Our Bellies

It’s the first day of the Political Studies Association conference in Belfast.  I’ve been presenting on my recent work on eurosceptic discourse, but here I’d like to focus on some of the other themes that have been emerging.

The plenary with Matt Flinders on ‘Defending Politics’ was a genuine call to arms to political scientists.  Speaking on the 50th anniversary of Crick’s classic text “In Defence of Politics” and of Matt’s our new title “Defending Politics”, He asked colleagues to move on from the “methodological masturbation” of the discipline and rebuild the connection to the real world.  His argument that too often our writing is dry and inaccessible is very true: when was the last time you read a politics text that gave you any sense of enjoyment, pleasure, or indeed any emotion?


The answer is not about working harder, Matt suggests, but working smarter, in order to close the capability-expectations gap (good to see European studies giving something back to the wider discussion of politic, incidentally).  Work needs to be recast for different audiences: conventional research is not only for traditional academic outlets, but also for more accessible research notes for practitioners and then as pieces for media for general consumption.


That’s an agenda that I’m more than happy to buy into.  Matt talked about getting more ‘fire in our bellies’: that might be a b it strong, but if political studies are to have any future, then we have to demonstrate our relevance to the lives of those around us.