Terminological Interchange Between Sociology and Political Science


  • *Lee Sigelman died December 21, 2009, the day SSQ accepted this article. All correspondence should be directed to Susan Welch, 110 Sparks Bldg., Penn State, University Park, PA 16803 〈swelch@psu.edu〉. Susan Welch also retains the data on which the article is based.


Objectives. To determine how frequently disciplinary terminology moves from discipline to discipline and to measure how long it takes for a term to be established in another discipline.

Methods. Using sociology and political science as case studies, core concepts in each discipline are identified and their usage in the home and the other (adoptive) discipline assessed through a content analysis of three top journals in each field.

Results. Movement of concepts between the two disciplines is sparse, though political science is more of a borrower from sociology than the reverse.

Conclusions. Interdisciplinary ideas have not been likely to flourish in leading disciplinary outlets over the past century, and there seems to be little reason to expect major departures from the patterns documented here.