Peter Taylor reflects on the directions in which social science has moved in the twenty years since the issuing of the Gulbenkian Commission’s report, Open the Social Sciences. While a strong case was made for interdisciplinarity in that report, Taylor, a member of the commission, highlights a different trend: the development of “corporate” social science. While not opposed to interdisciplinary work, this form of social science, argues Taylor, has established a well-resourced world of institutions and processes for the validation and dissemination of social knowledge parallel to universities and shapes social science in ways that serve private agendas rather than public goals or critical perspectives.
Peter J. Taylor
Peter J. Taylor is emeritus professor of human geography at Northumbria University (from 2015) and at Loughborough University (from 2010). He has held visiting positions in the United States (Iowa, Clark, Dartmouth, Illinois, Binghamton, Virginia Tech, and Delaware), Canada (Alberta), France (Paris), Netherlands (Amsterdam) and Belgium (Ghent) and has been an advisor to the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. He was founding editor of Political Geography (Quarterly) in 1982 and Review of International Political Economy in 1992. He is founder and director of the Globalization and World Cities (GaWC) research network. A fellow of the British Academy and the Academy of Social Sciences (UK), he was designated for Distinguished Scholarship Honors by the Association of American Geographers in 2003 and was awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award by the Political Geography Specialty Group of the Association of American Geographers in 2010. He has honorary doctorates from Oulu University and Ghent University. The American Library Association’s Choice magazine selected his Extraordinary Cities: Millennia of Moral Syndromes, World-Systems and City/State Relations (Elgar Publishing, 2013) as one of its “Outstanding Academic Titles, 2013.” His World City Network: A Global Urban Analysis has gone into a second edition (with Ben Derudder; Routledge, 2015) and his Political Geography: World-Economy, Nation-State and Locality (with Colin Flint; Routledge, 2011) is in its sixth edition. Seats, Votes, and the Spatial Organization of Elections (with Graham Gudgin; ECPR, 1979) was reprinted in 2012 by the European Consortium on Political Research as part of its “Classics” series.