For a Ruthless Criticism of U.S. Politics

M. David Forrest

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


The central goal of most American politics scholarship - and, indeed, of much of modern political science - is to foster more precise accounts of political and social life, that is, accounts that reduce uncertainty about politics and society. Drawing on Marx's call for a "ruthless criticism," this article outlines the contours and promise of a more disruptive American politics. Rather than reduce uncertainty about politics and society, disruptive scholarship unveils points of tension at which they are contingent and mutable - in a sense, rendering them more uncertain. In the process, I argue, this scholarship articulates important possibilities for democratic and egalitarian change. To illustrate the promise of disruptive research, I examine the American politics literatures on intersectionality and policy feedback, both of which have a significant but often underappreciated capacity to reveal crucial points of sociopolitical tension. I conclude by suggesting how scholars of U.S. politics might better develop the disruptive potential of their collective work.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)5-28
Number of pages24
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2016


  • American politics
  • Marx
  • critical social science
  • intersectionality
  • policy feedback

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science


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