Mark Solovey

Assistant Professor Institute for the History and Philosophy of Science
Affiliated Faculty, CSUS




Victoria College, Room 322, 91 Charles Street West



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.

Research interests

History of the social and psychological sciences in the United States
Controversies regarding the scientific identity of the social sciences
Private and public patronage for social research
Public policy implications of social science expertise.


Ph. D – University of Wisconsin-Madison, (1996)

M.A – University of Wisconsin-Madison, (1990)

M.A – University of Wisconsin-Madison (1988)

B.A – Rollins College (1985)

awards and distinctions

Charles Warren Research Fellowship, 2011-2012
Best Article Prizef rom Forum for the History of the Human Sciences (of the History of Science Society), for best article published in the field during the previous three years: 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, 2005

selected publications


Solovey, Mark, 2013, Shaky Foundations: The Politics-Patronage-Social Science Nexus in Cold War America (New Brunswick, New Jersey: Rutgers University Press).

Solovey, Mark & Hamilton Cravens, eds., 2012 hardback/2014 paperback. Cold War Social Science: Knowledge Production, Liberal Democracy, and Human Nature (New York: Palgrave Macmillan).

Journal Volume, Guest Editor

Solovey, Mark, 2001. “Science in the Cold War,” thematic volume of essays published in Social Studies of Science 31, no. 2.

Journal Articles

Solovey, Mark, 2012. “Senator Fred Harris’s National Social Science Foundation Proposal: Reconsidering Federal Science Policy, Natural Science-Social Science Relations, and American Liberalism during the 1960s,” ISIS 103, 54-82.

Solovey, Mark, 2001. “Project Camelot and the 1960s Epistemological Revolution: Rethinking the Politics-Patronage-Social Science Nexus,” Social Studies of Science 31, 171-206.


History of Psychology
History and Philosophy of the Social Sciences
Politics, Patrons, and Scientific Identity in American Social Science, WWII to the Present
The Science of Human Nature
Psychology and Society
Methodology, Theory and Ethics in the Life Sciences
Wisdom of the Social Sciences

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