My research focuses on the development of the social sciences in the United States, especially in the period since World War Two. I am especially interested in controversies regarding the scientific identity of the social sciences, private and public patronage for social research, and the public policy implications of social science expertise.
My book Shaky Foundations: The Politics-Patronage-Social Science Nexus in Cold War America provides the first extensive examination of a new patronage system for the social sciences that emerged in the early Cold War years and that took more definite shape during the 1950s and early 1960s, a period of enormous expansion in American social science. By focusing on the military, the Ford Foundation, and the National Science Foundation, I show how this patronage system presented social scientists and other interested parties, including natural scientists and politicians, with new opportunities to work out the scientific identity, social implications, and public policy uses of academic social research. I also examine significant criticisms of the new patronage system, which contributed to widespread efforts to rethink and reshape the politics-patronage-social science nexus starting in the mid-1960s. Based on extensive archival research, Shaky Foundations addresses fundamental questions about the intellectual foundations of the social sciences, their relationships with the natural sciences and the humanities, and the political and ideological import of academic social inquiry.
I am also co-editor of the book Cold War Social Science: Knowledge Production, Liberal Democracy and Human Nature. From World War II to the early 1970s, social science research expanded in dramatic and unprecedented fashion in the United States, which became the world’s acknowledged leader in the field. This book examines how, why, and with what consequences this rapid and yet contested expansion depended on the entanglement of the social sciences with the Cold War. Utilizing the controversial but useful concept of “Cold War Social Science,” the contributions gathered here reveal how scholars from established disciplines and new interdisciplinary fields of study made important contributions to long-standing debates about knowledge production, liberal democracy, and human nature in an era of diplomatic tension and ideological conflict.
Solovey, Mark, 2014. “Una Nueva Politica del Conocimiento: La Propuesta del Senador Fred Harris de una Fundacion Nacional de las Ciencias Sociales,” Revista Anales de la Academia de Ciencias de Cuba 4, 1-12.
Solovey, Mark, associate editor, 2014, The Oxford Encyclopedia of the History of American Science, Medicine, and Technology, two volumes (New York: Oxford University Press).
Solovey, Mark, 2014, “The Social Sciences in America, Post-1945,” in Hugh Slotten, ed., Oxford Encyclopedia of the History of American Science, Medicine, and Technology (New York: Oxford University Press).
Solovey, Mark, 2014. “Social Science Research Council,” in Hugh Slotten, ed., The Oxford Encyclopedia of the History of American Science, Medicine, and Technology (New York: Oxford University Press).
Solovey, Mark, 2013hb/2015pb. Shaky Foundations: The Politics-Patronage-Social Science Nexus in Cold War America (New Jersey: Rutgers University Press).
Solovey, Mark & Hamilton Cravens, eds., 2012hb/2014pb, Cold War Social Science: Knowledge Production, Liberal Democracy and Human Nature (New York: Palgrave Macmillan).
Solovey, Mark, 2012. “Project Camelot,” online, in Thomas Teo, ed., Encyclopedia of Critical Psychology, March 24, 2012.
Solovey, Mark, 2012. “Cold War Social Science: Specter, Reality, or Useful Concept?” 1-22 in Mark Solovey & Hamilton Cravens, eds., Cold War Social Science: Knowledge Production, Liberal Democracy and Human Nature (New York: Palgrave Macmillan).
Solovey, Mark, 2012. “Senator Fred Harris’s Effort to Create a National Social Science Foundation: Challenge to the U.S. National Science Establishment,” ISIS 103, 54-82.
Solovey, Mark & Jefferson Pooley, 2011. “The Price of Success: Sociologist Harry Alpert, the NSF’s First Social Science Policy Architect,” Annals of Science 68, 229-260.
Solovey, Mark, 2010. “Project Camelot and the 1960s Epistemological Revolution: Rethinking the Politics-Patronage-Social Science Nexus,” in Howard Lune, Enrique S. Pumar & Ross Koppel, eds., Perspectives in Social Research Methods and Analysis: A Reader for Sociology (Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage, 2010), 166-194. This is a republication of my 2001 journal article with the same title.
Pooley, Jeff & Mark Solovey, 2010. “Marginal to the Revolution: The Curious Relations between Economics and the Behavioral Sciences Movement in Mid-Twentieth-Century America.” History of Political Economy 42 Annual Supplement, 199-233.
Solovey, Mark, 2004. “Riding Natural Scientists’ Coattails onto the Endless Frontier: The SSRC and the Quest for Scientific Legitimacy,” Journal of the History of the Behavioral Sciences, v. 40, no. 4, 393-422. (Winner of the 2005 Best Article Prize from The Forum for the History of the Human Sciences, for best article in the field published during the previous three years)
Solovey, Mark, 2001, guest editor, “Science in the Cold War,” thematic volume of Social Studies of Science, v. 31, no. 2.
Solovey, Mark, 2001. “Project Camelot and the 1960s Epistemological Revolution: Rethinking the Politics-Patronage-Social Science Nexus,” Social Studies of Science, v. 31, no. 2, 171-206.
Solovey, Mark, 2001. “Science and the State during the Cold War: Blurred Boundaries and a Contested Legacy,” Social Studies of Science, v. 31, no. 2, 165-170.
Kleinman, Daniel & Mark Solovey, 1995. “Hot Science/Cold War: The National Science Foundation After WWII,” Radical History Review, v. 63, 110-139.
Solovey, Mark, 1993. “Guy Orcutt and the Social Systems Research Institute: Interdisciplinary Troubles,” in Robert Lampman (ed.), Economists at Wisconsin: 1892-1992, Madison, Wisconsin, Department of Economics, University of Wisconsin, 178-184.
I am working on four main projects.
- I recently completed a book manuscript called “Social Science for What? Public Funding for the ‘Other Sciences’ at the U.S. National Science Foundation since World War Two.” This project is currently under review.
- Recently I also completed an essay manuscript called “The Impossible Dream: Scientism as Strategy against Distrust of Social Science at the U.S. National Science Foundation, 1945-1980.” This is under review as well.
- I am co-editor with Deborah Weinstein (historian of science and medicine/American studies scholar) for a special issue of the Journal of the History of the Behavioral Sciences on the topic “Living Well: Histories of Emotions, Wellness & Human Flourishing.”
- For the 2018 International Sociological Association’s World Congress of Sociology, I am the co-organizer with Christian Daye (historian of sociology/sociologist) of two sessions on the theme “Cold War Social and Behavioral Sciences: International and Transnational Entanglements.” Link to first session. Link to second session.
Christian and I are planning an edited volume of essays on the same topic.
Member of Ph.D. Committees
Paul Patton, [on the history and philosophy of direct and indirect perception], (in progress)
Kira Lussier, “Personality, Incorporated,” (completion expected in fall 2018)
Sebastián Gil-Riaño, “Historicizing Anti-Racism: UNESCO’s Campaigns Against Race Prejudice in the 1950s,” (completed 2013)
Michelle Hoffman, “Constructing School Science: Physics, Biology, and Chemistry Education in Ontrario Secondary Schools, 1884-1965,” (internal examiner, completed 2012)
Janet Martin-Nielson, “Private Knowledge, Public Tensions: Theory Commitment in Postwar American Linguistics,” (completed 2009)