Welcome to The Smoke-Filled Room!

The Smoke-Filled Room is a collective endeavor of a group of current political science PhD students. In this blog, we will attempt to reconcile two aspects of politics: the theories that underlie political analysis, from academic and non-academic sources, and the actual practice of politics as we see it before our eyes. We need theory to help us make sense of what we experience; to identify what is more or less important and why. Conversely, few would disagree that theory without application to real events lacks meaning. However, marrying often-inconsistent and contradictory theories to dynamic political events is, we are learning, not easy.

We feel that, as graduate students of political science, we are uniquely positioned to help fill this gap. As relative newcomers to the discipline, we have few agendas, academic or political, but have informed opinions about both politics and science. In our studies, we simultaneously try to familiarize ourselves with traditional canon and to keep abreast of new developments in political science. Our research spans the globe, both in scope and actual field experience. But, perhaps most importantly, we talk politics amongst ourselves. With The Smoke-Filled Room, we hope to bring the political science graduate student community experience online. This blog provides us a forum to think aloud; to derive insight from inside the ivory tower and apply it to news as it unfolds. Our hope is that this endeavor leads to interesting yet objective analysis and further discussion.

In The Smoke-Filled Room, you will find four general types of blog posts. First, we will provide analysis and opinions of current national and international events as they happen. Second, we will offer our (however complete or incomplete) thoughts on relevant political science scholarship. For those contributors who are conducting field research, we will also carry letters from the field, aimed at providing a unique ground-level perspective. Finally, we will occasionally take a step back and assess the state of the discipline itself.

We at The Smoke-Filled Room look forward to embarking upon this journey. Social science is an inherently collective enterprise. In keeping with that spirit, we welcome any feedback or suggestions and look forward to hearing from you, the reader, going forward. Now let’s get to blogging!

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