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I n this essay, I rely primarily on unpublished documents from the Rockefeller Foundation Archives as well as the annual reports of the Ford Foundation and the Social Science Research Council (SSRC) to show that rather than being in a torpor, political theory in the 1950s was a large and eclectic field, marked by contest and rapid change. I focus on the Rockefeller Foundation’s policy making for its program in Legal and Political Philosophy (LAPP), the largest grant program for political theory in the 1950s, both to see how the Foundation justified the creation of the program and how it defined its scope. I argue that when faced with the task of settling on a working definition of “political theory” for the purpose of awarding grants, the Foundation’s officers and the academics who assisted them opted, after prolonged debate, for an eclectic definition of political theory. I read the emergence of this eclectic definition of political theory, however, not as evidence of pacific pluralism but as an attempt to contain some of the new challenges to the field by incorporating them into it, albeit in a subordinate position.

Published Citation

Hauptmann, E. (2006). From opposition to accommodation: How Rockefeller Foundation grants redefined relations between political theory and social science in the 1950s. American Political Science Review, 100(4), 643.