Science & Society

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Template:TOCnestleft Science & Society is a New York based "journal of Marxist Thought and Analysis"


Science & Society is a quarterly journal of Marxist thought and analysis. Published without interruption since its inception in 1936. With a press run of about 2,500 copies, the journal reaches 565 individual subscribers, of whom 475 are in the United States and 90 reside in other countries. S&S also has 800 library and other institutional subscribers, both in the United States and abroad.

In its early years, Science & Society played a unique role in providing a home for scholarship in the Marxist tradition. It attracted contributors from many countries, and was a major site of interaction among Marxist researchers in capitalist countries and those working in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe. The British "social relations of science" movement was well represented, including some of that school's leading figures, such as J. B. S. Haldane, Hyman Levy and J. D. Bernal. Also from Britain, political economists such asMaurice Dobb, and historians such as Eric Hobsbawn and Christopher Hill, contributed regularly; in this way, S&S played a role in the early development of the British Marxist Historians school. In the United States, leading figures in history, literature and the social sciences, such as Joyce Adler, Herbert Aptheker, M. F. Ashley Montagu, W. E. B. DuBois, Abraham Edel, Lewis S. Feuer, Philip S. Foner, Margaret George, Alvin W. Gouldner, Irving Louis Horowitz, Corliss Lamont, Eleanor Burke Leacock, Robert S. Lynd, Robert K. Merton, June Nash, Joan Robinson, and William Appleman Williams, among many others, wrote articles and reviews for the journal.

Science & Society was founded, after a developmental period of several years that involved two main centers: one group in Boston, led by the MIT mathematician Dirk Struik, and another in New York, with significant participation from faculty members at New York University. Founding editor Margaret Schlauch, the distinguished linguist and medievalist, was a member of the English Department at New York University, as was Edwin Berry Burgum, another S&S founding editor. Dr. Annette T. Rubinstein, who was not a founding editor but joined the Editorial Board in the 1960s and was active with the journal until her death in 2007 at age 97, also taught briefly at NYU, where there was a concentration of S&S activism in the first period of the journal's existence.

One particularly influential contribution arose as a result of Paul Sweezy's 1950 essay on Maurice Dobb's Studies in the Development of Capitalism, which developed into a full-fledged controversy involving, in addition to Dobb and Sweezy, Rodney Hilton, H. K. Takahashi, and Christopher Hill, subsequently published in book form as The Transition from Feudalism to Capitalism, under the editorship of Hilton. This "first round" debate in the theory of social transformation set the stage for the later "Brenner Debate" on the transition to capitalism, and has often been revisited in recent years in S&S.

In the early decades, Science & Society had a strong base in the non-academic political left, in a time when "ordinary" working people felt comfortable studying political economy, reading critiques of the leading mainstream intellectual figures of the time, or debating the "situation in the biological sciences" (S&S was an early critic of T. D. Lysenko). There were "friends of Science & Society" clubs in various cities throughout the United States, and the journal also achieved an international reputation. It should be noted that, while S&S was in (what could be called, in that period) the Marxist mainstream, and some of its authors were aligned with or sympathetic to the Communist parties, the journal has always been organizationally independent, never affiliated with or funded by any political party or institution.[1]


Science & Society has been joined in later decades by a variety of publications with left and Marxist orientation, but it has continued to carve out a distinctive role in the widening stream of publications in progressive and critical social analysis. While it is hard to nail down this distinctiveness in a precise way, there are perhaps four main features.

First, S&S is determinedly generalist in its approach to subject matter. Drawing upon numerous disciplines, from history and economics to philosophy, sociology, anthropology and cultural studies, the ultimate goal is to transcend disciplinary boundaries and contribute to the reconstitution of social theory and research as a unified, trans-specialist practice. In pursuit of this long-term objective, the journal asks contributors from present-day disciplines to seek out the most intuitively clear and self-contained presentations of their arguments, so that the journal's contents are accessible to the motivated general reader.

Second, S&S resists exclusive identification with any particular trend or school of interpretation within Marxism, and does not attempt to give Marxism precise boundaries or definition. Thus, various identifiable positions, such as existential Marxism, autonomist Marxism, overdeterminationist Marxism, analytical Marxism, Uno-school political economy, the social structures of accumulation school, regulation theory, etc., are welcomed and represented, but always in the interest of drawing out their enduring contributions to and significance for Marxism as such, as a progressive and critical framework for social and political research and action.

Third, most participants in the S&S enterprise would repudiate one division, usually symbolized by the unfortunate geographic coinage "Western" Marxism. This term implies an invidious distinction between Marxism as interpreted within the Communist Parties in the 20th century, including in places where those parties held state power, on the one hand; and the Marxisms that flourished outside of that political framework, mainly in the academy in the United States, Western Europe, Japan, and parts of the "Third World," on the other. Science & Society, although not necessarily all authors who appear in its pages, affirms that the realities of post-capitalist societies have been complex, and have involved both negative and positive elements; that the best way to go forward is to recuperate all of the valuable contributions from the various Marxist traditions, "East" and "West," without routine political responses, either hostile or defensive[2].

Book reviews

Each issue of S&S contains 10-12 book reviews. While it is a challenge to cover adequately the books published in the wide variety of fields under our purview, the range and quality of the book reviews has often been noted, and we believe that the book review section is a distinctive contribution of the journal. Unlike the practice of many journals, assigned book reviews are evaluated by the Manuscript Collective prior to publication, and acceptance for publication is not automatic.[3]

Editorial Board

Editorial board as of 2009[4];

Contributing editors

As at 2009[5];

Editorial honor roll