Thursday, June 20, 2013

There are Clubs In Poli Sci/IR?

Where do I sign up?  How do I get a membership card?  Patrick Thaddeus Jackson has a great post at Duck of Minerva on the three commandments of editing a journal.  #2 is:
2. Thou Shalt Not Commit “Club Reviews,” in which the only people asked to rule on the publishability of a manuscript are people in the same sub-subfield as the author and already agree with the author on most points. Sure, sometimes you need the opinion of some member of the club to help you decide if an apparently-insignificant-to-the-unintiated claim is something that fellow specialists would find intriguing and worthwhile, but you can’t just let members of the in-group make that determination. If you do need to consult a member of the club, counterbalance that with a review by someone who is very much not a club member.
There are clubs in IR?  I am shocked, shocked!!  Ok, I am not shocked at all.  When I joke here and there about reindeer games to which I don't belong, this is essentially what I am talking about.  I have always felt club-less--that I do not belong to any particular club.  This goes back to high school, as I felt I was in the clique of the folks who were not in any clique--the residual clique if you will.  Of course, other observers at the time might have thought otherwise.  Today, I am sure folks in the field would consider me to belong to various clubs: the UCSD alumni, the Minorities at Risk folks, the Pat James poker gang, the American ex-pats of Canada, friends of the Duck of Minerva, the blogging community, runner ups in Twitter Fight Club, etc.

But in terms of a coherent in-group a la the Jackson Commandments, nay.  Perhaps I am but blind to it.   The funny thing is that this post came out a day after I realized that I am definitely in one out-group.  Well, I have always known I am in a particular out-group, but yesterday's epiphany cemented it.  I realized that I have reviewed multiple articles for pretty much every major North American journal in Political Science and International Relatoins except for one.  There is one journal that has never asked me to be a referee in their publication process.  It is a journal in which I have tried to be published so they know I exist.

What does all of this mean?  Well, one core dynamic in the formation of identity is that one tends to identify oneself by what one is not.  I was "clique-less" in high school because I could not identify with any of the major groupings.  I was not a jock nor a stoner nor whatever Ally Sheedy was in Breakfast Club (although a Sheedy fan indeed).  A brain?  Well, I had friends who were the brains of the school, but I didn't think I fit in there either because I didn't work that hard.  I was only in one play senior year so I was not in the theater crowd (musicals are not my thing if you have heard me sing).  In political science/IR, I know that there are a few groups to which I do not belong: I am not in the high tech quant crowd, I am not a formal modeler, I am not an IPE guy, I am not a post-modernist and I am not part of the security mafia.  I tend to think I don't fit anywhere because I cross boundaries--between IR and Comparative, within IR between security, conflict and foreign policy. 

Does any of this matter?  Only when there is an actual in-group that is semi-organized or more, patrolling the journals, presses, and post-docs to favor those in the in-group, like an old boys network or something.  Luckily, there are far fewer of these clubs than there are cliques in high school.  I have friends who are members of this one club, but I have never been a member nor will I ever be one.  And I am ok with it.  My career has had a few bumps along the way, but I can declare success

I am just very glad that there are editors like PT Jackson who are aware of the clubbiness and do something to make sure the clubs do not effect outcomes as much as some folks like or fear.

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