chapter  15
16 Pages

What’s Next? The Intellectual Legacy of Ithiel de Sola Pool

WithSola Pool Ithiel de

This chapter discusses Ithiel’s major enduring contributions to the development of the social sciences. It addresses Ithiel’s legacy as a pioneer who always was engaging the question “What’s Next?” Ithiel contributed to almost every field of political science and to the broader development of the social sciences. He pioneered the rigorous study of contact networks and influence, a line of work that become known as “the small world” phenomenon. The key claim is Ithiel’s argument that “people who think about social change in traditional political terms cannot begin to imagine the changes that lie ahead.” Ithiel was a pioneer who believed that he and his students should be creating the future. He believed that the study of communication systems could be as powerful as the study of economic systems. Ithiel was passionately committed to free speech and democratic processes and believed that the schema of hypothesis and evidence could save from the endless recycling of similar ideological arguments.