Entrevistando a Científicos Sociales: Adam Przeworski

Comparto esta entrevista a Adam Przeworski, profesor del Departamento de Ciencias Políticas de New York University. Es bastante larga (63 páginas!), pero sin duda muy provechosa para los interesados en ciencia política en el país. Przeworski tiene una trayectoria interesantísima: empezó como sociólogo en su natal Polonia y luego hizo su doctorado en ciencias políticas en Northwestern University. Fue marxista, pero de los inteligentes y el núcleo de su programa de investigación consiste en temas que pueden entenderse como un esfuerzo por comprender el porqué alguna de las principales predicciones del marxismo fallaron (como, por ejemplo, el porqué no hubo revoluciones en occidente) . Fue uno de los primeros politólogos en usar la teoría de juegos en sus investigaciones, lo cual para la mayoría de sus colegas era poco menos que una extravagancia metodológica.

Copio tres partes que me parecen muy interesantes. La primera, sobre como entrena a sus estudiantes de postgrado:
Q: You have trained lots of graduate students. What’s your approach to teaching graduate
students?

A: First, I do “train” them. I subject graduate students to a systematic program. What typically happens is that a student says he or she wants to study with me. I ask them what they want to do. Then I ask what they know, and then I tell them, “Here is what you need to learn in order to do what you want to do.” These days what they need to learn typically consists of some philosophy, some economics, and quite a lot of statistics. So my students get a systematic training by others. In addition, I have always taught an introduction to something. For many, many years I taught a course called “Marxist Theories of the State,” which evolved into “Theories of the State,” and then into “Political Economy.” I may not teach this course anymore, because I already published a textbook on the subject. I don’t think I can teach what I’ve already written. In any case, students typically take this introductory course. I also teach advanced courses, usually about whatever I am working on or about some methodological aspects I think students should learn and cannot get from others. For example, I recently taught a course called “Statistical Methods of Comparative Research,” which focused on selection bias. I don’t teach facts. My view is that students should learn facts by themselves, by reading history. But I do force all my foreign graduate students to take an American Government course. And unless they are especially strong-headed and committed, I don’t allow them to write about their own country for a long time. Students acquire all these skills and then they formulate a research project. And I supervise them quite tightly. I usually run a doctoral seminar. One of the things I discovered a long time ago is that graduate students in the US are left alone at the very time that they most need interaction with their advisers and other students. In the US, graduate students finish their coursework, defend their proposal, their funding typically ends, and then they are on their own. That’s when you most need to speak to others, hear others, and learn new techniques you may need to use for your dissertation. So I have always kept some form of interaction framework for advanced students. I always encourage them to participate in seminars, to talk to others, and to present their work.

El otro párrafo tiene que ver con el reconocimiento que hace Przeworski acerca de las contribuciones de los economistas al área de comparative politics. De acuerdo con él, parte de las mejores contribuciones en el campo la vienen haciendo economistas:
Q: If you look at where the field of comparative politics was 30 years ago and where we are now, what are the main things we have learned?
A: Let me preface my answer with one caveat. I think that some of the best research in comparative politics is done these days by economists, so I will include them in my answer. Daron Acemoglu and James Robinson, Alberto Alesina, Roland Benabou, Jess Benhabib, Torsten Persson and Guido Tabellini, and many others do excellent work in comparative politics. They typically don’t know enough about politics, but they address central questions and get answers. With that inclusion, yes, I think there has been a tremendous accumulation of knowledge.
Siendo cierto lo que dice Przeworski, creo que en el caso peruano se necesita que los economistas nos pongamos a trabajar más en serio en temas de ciencia política. Ello por varias razones: a) no existe una academia de ciencia política en el país, en parte porque hay contados doctores en ciencia política y porque abundan los especialistas con experiencia en la “cancha” política pero que carecen del instrumental necesario para abordar científicamente temas políticos, b) los economistas tenemos formación y oficio en el instrumental metodológico que es de uso común en los programas más avanzado de doctorado en ciencia política, en gran medida por que estos llegaron hace bastante tiempo a nuestra ciencia o fueron desarrolladas en esta, y c) la mayoría de los peruanos que estudian ahora en doctorados en ciencias políticas fueron formados en especialidades en las cuales se promueve la desconfianza a aproximaciones como el rational choice y se privilegia por al contrario aproximaciones mas discursivas. De ahí que no sea raro observar que estos terminan tomando por fields en sus estudios doctorales precisamente aquellas areas de las ciencias políticas que son más débiles en el uso intensivo de métodos estadísticos o modelación teórica. No me parece casualidad que no sea fácil encontrar papers escritos por politólogos peruanos que formulen modelos o usen estrategias de identificación más sofisticadas para discutir temas de causalidad. Por suerte, me parece que dentro los jóvenes economistas que están en el exterior hay ahora un mayor interés por moverse en estos temas y eso se ha de reflejar a la hora de escribir las tesis doctorales.
Finalmente, otro párrafo sobre la necesidad de aprender economía por parte de los politólogos:
Q: In addition to using formal tools in theorizing, you’ve often drawn on the work of economists. When did you start reading economics?
A: Since about 1972. I was teaching a course on the Marxist theory of the state, a topic that had generated a great explosion of interest at the time. In 1969/70, there was an exchange between Miliband and Poulantzas,61 and the literature was evolving every year as new works appeared. I came to the conclusion that the Marxist theory of the state made no sense, because Marxist economics made no sense. During this time there were several critiques of Marxist economics and several theorems that showed that Marx’s claim about the declining rate of profit under capitalism was false. Elster, John Roemer and I came to the conclusion that the economic model underlying Marxist theories of the state made no sense. That’s when I decided to bite the bullet and learn some neo-classical economics. I was aided in the process by the fact that Michael Wallerstein, who had reached the same conclusion as I, was a student in my class. He went to the economics department and did their whole graduate program in economics. He basically taught me the rudiments of neo-classical economics. Since then I have been reading more and more economics. Today I read more things by economists than by political scientists, because a lot of economists do political science now. I recently published a textbook on political economy in which the main thesis is that you cannot do political economy unless you know economics.

La entrevista completa pueden verla aquí:
http://politics.as.nyu.edu/docs/IO/2800/munck.pdf
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