The rise of think tanks

This podcast discussion is very interesting. I don’t think I’d ever heard leading figures from the think tank world reflect so openly about how they see their work. Any adequate sociology of think tanks has to be able to account for these self-understandings:

The role of think tanks in shaping public policy dates back nearly a century to when the Brookings Institution set up shop in the nation’s capital. The idea was to create a “university without students” that could provide research to lawmakers. Today, there are more than 1,800 think tanks in the United States, 400 in Washington alone. They range from liberal to conservative, scholarly to activist. Recently, outside groups have started to demand a higher level of transparency when it comes to where think tanks get their money. They say citizens deserve to know who is bankrolling the ideas that shape our democracy. A conversation about think tanks, influence and independence.

William Antholis

managing director, Brookings Institution

Eric Lipton

reporter in The New York Times Washington bureau who covers lobbying, ethics and corporate agendas

Tevi Troy

president, American Health Policy Institute; former deputy secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

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