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Reply #12: Iron triangles are an old concept in political science [View All]

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Alcibiades Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Dec-07-09 02:05 PM
Response to Reply #6
12. Iron triangles are an old concept in political science
I'm a political scientist. I don't remember who came up with the idea first, and the book I use to teach intro doesn't have a citation, and most of the books in my subject field are in a different area, but iron triangles have been in the literature since at least the 1970's, and the concept itself predates the first use of the term.

This is a well-established concept in political science, so much so, in fact, that some folks have made careers out of calling it into question. Many scholars today favor the idea of an "issue network" as more descriptive of the actual process at work (the idea is that there are actually competing interests at work in any given area, some of which actually represent the public interest, rather than the narrow, particularistic interests typical of the old iron triangle model). As such, the idea of the iron triangle is a bit out of favor in the literature, though every political scientist, certainly in America, at least, is familiar with the idea.

That particular image is on the wikipedia entry under "iron triangle." The reason why you may have not heard of this subject, one upon which hundreds of books and articles have been written, is that political scientists just study politics: we don't practice it, or even talk about it with folks who are not our students, or publish about it in non-academic periodicals with a broader audience. We pretty much just sit in our offices, studying a political system that any decent theory of democracy would find appalling.
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