The identity of political science, its tenuous orthodoxies and continuing divisions, is bound up with its history. The historical subject of this essay is the rise of one particular orthodoxy, the socio‐psychological model of opinion research and voting behaviour originally associated with the University of Michigan. This rise helps constitute a conservative defence of American liberal democracy in the early cold war, owing much to the peculiar politics of that era. The contemporary payoff of this historical reconstruction is an identification of the vulnerabilities and invulnerabilities of the model as highlighted by its struggles with the understandings it superseded and the contingent political context of these struggles. The substantial legacy for the discipline as a whole merits careful critical scrutiny, especially given changes in the political context since the 1950s, and the end of the cold war.
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|Published - 1992