Re: Anthros as policy wonks

Michael Cahill (MCBlueline@AOL.COM)
Thu, 16 May 1996 11:54:33 -0400

In a message dated 96-05-11 14:02:51 EDT, ms44278@HUEY.CSUN.EDU (mike shupp)

> Nor wouldthings be much different if anthropologists ran HEW,
>HUD, and sixteen other cabinet offices. Ultimately, policy is set by
>elected officials-- chiefly Congressmen and governors.
> And these days, I should add, by Congressmen and governors who
>despise social scientists who disagree with them.
> Anthropologists who want to affect social policy should look
>towards Walt Rostow, Henry Kissinger, Robert Reich, Zbiginew Brzinski,
>and the like for examples-- find a man who wants to be President, attach
>your star to his, and wait and pray.
> Or run for office themselves.
Personally, I would be happy to see anthropologists running for office and
advising office holders. I can't really recall either of these things
happening at the national level, and so I don't think we can say that
anthropologists would have no impact. (Actually, I seem to remember that
Jerry Brown, former governor of California, used to turn to Gregory Bateson
for advice: can anyone confirm this? And, if so, does anyone remember what
Bateson was consulted on or what his recommendations were?)

But not all policy is made at the national level. Most of educational policy
and much social welfare policy, for example, are made at the state and local
levels (usually with a tip of the hat to national goals or strategies).
While it is true that party politics is always a major factor, the impact of
quality initiatives from inside government and of lobbying, advocacy, and
reform groups (from outside) should not be underestimated. There is plenty
of room for policy anthropologists here.

Mike Cahill