Theorizing politics, politicizing theory, and the responsibility that runs between

Piki Ish-Shalom*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


What are social science theorists' responsibilities for the effects of their theories in the real world? I maintain that politicians and ideologues place theories in their political agendas without necessarily heeding their actual content. Hence, the ramifications of theories in the real world are mostly the result of political uses and, at times, political abuses. Consequently, theorists cannot be held morally responsible for these. They do, however, bear the obligation to examine if there are some intrinsic features of theorization and theory that render these susceptible to public misinterpretation and vulnerable to political abuse. Pointing to the rhetorical capital inherent in theories, and supported by examples involving democratic-peace theory and its political destinies, I conclude that, to discharge this task, social science theorists should substitute the prevailing objective ethic with a normative one.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)303-316
Number of pages14
JournalPerspectives on Politics
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2009


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