A Sociological Critique of the Economic Theory of Politics
Author: Lars Udehn
Category: Business & Economics
Public choice has been one of the most important developments in the social sciences in the last twenty years. However there are many people who are frustrated by the uncritical importing of ideas from economics into political science. Public Choice uses both empirical evidence and theoretical analysis to argue that the economic theory of politics is limited in scope and fertility. In order to arrive at a more comprehensive understanding of political life, political scientists must learn from both economists and sociologists.
What has gone wrong with economics? Economists now routinely devise highly sophisticated abstract models that score top marks for theoretical rigour but are clearly divorced from observable activities in the current economy. This creates an 'uneconomic economics', where models explain relationships in blackboard rather than real-life markets.
In Law and Public Choice, Daniel Farber and Philip Frickey present a remarkably rich and accessible introduction to the driving principles of public choice. In this, the first systematic look at the implications of social choice for legal doctrine, Farber and Frickey carefully review both the empirical and theoretical literature about interest group influence and provide a nonmathematical introduction to formal models of legislative action. Ideal for course use, this volume offers a balanced and perceptive analysis and critique of an approach which, within limits, can illuminate the dynamics of government decision-making. “Law and Public Choice is a most valuable contribution to the burgeoning literature. It should be of great interest to lawyers, political scientists, and all others interested in issues at the intersection of government and law.”—Cass R. Sunstein, University of Chicago Law School
Law and the State provides a political economy analysis of the legal functioning of a democratic state, illustrating how it builds on informational and legal constraints. It explains, in an organised and thematic fashion, how competitive information enhances democracy while strategic information endangers it, and discusses how legal constraints stress the dilemma of independence versus discretion for judges as well as the elusive role of administrators and experts. Throughout the book, empirical evidence and comparative studies illuminate sometimes provocative theoretical views on issues such as: the place of the rule of law in constitutional and banking systems; regulation of copyright, art and heritage; innovations and technologies of communication and information; terrorism and media manipulation. Both private and public law, applied and theoretical issues are covered comprehensively. Academics and researchers of law and economics and public choice will find much to challenge and inform them within this book.
Throughout the world, politicians from all the main parties are cutting back on state welfare provision, encouraging people to use the private sector instead and developing increasingly stringent techniques for the surveillance of the poor. Almost all experts agree that we are likely to see further constraints on state welfare in the 21st Century. Gathering together the findings from up-to-date attitude surveys in Europe East and West, the US and Australasia, this revealing book shows that, contrary to the claims of many experts and policy-makers, the welfare state is still highly popular with the citizens of most countries. This evidence will add to controversy in an area of fundamental importance to public policy and to current social science debate.
This book occupies the same niche as Raymond Aron's 1962 classic, Peace and War. While Aron wrote during the Cold War, Thierry de Montbrial writes about the post-Soviet international system, a system that is multipolar, ideologically heterogeneous, and thus highly unstable. In this book, he lays the foundation for a praxeology, or a "science of action," to facilitate a better understanding of the dynamics of international problems and a more systematic approach to policy making. A major contribution to international relations theory and winner of the 2002 Georges Pompidou Prize, this book offers the necessary keys to decrypt the international system in the twenty-first century.
R. H. Coase Duncan Black was a close and dear friend. A man of great simplicity, un worldly, modest, diffident, with no pretensions, he was devoted to scholarship. In his single-minded search for the truth, he is an example to us all. Black's first degree at the University of Glasgow was in mathematics and physics. Mathematics as taught at Glasgow seems to have been designed for engineers and did not excite him and he switched to economics, which he found more congenial. But it was not in a lecture in economics but in one on politics that he found his star. One lecturer, A. K. White, discussed the possibility of constructing a pure science of politics. This question caught his imagination, perhaps because of his earlier training in physics, and it came to absorb his thoughts for the rest of his life. But almost certainly nothing would have come of it were it not for his appointment to the newly formed Dundee School of Economics where the rest of the. teaching staff came from the London School of Economics. At Glasgow, economics, as in the time of Adam Smith, was linked with moral philosophy. At Dundee, Black was introduced to the analytical x The Theory o/Committees and Elections approach dominant at the London School of Economics. This gave him the approach he used in his attempt to construct a pure science of politics.
This book points out that because many natural and cultural features are public goods, with limited markets and hazy property rights, public policies are needed to strike the delicate balance between supply and demand.
We seem to be witnessing the rebirth of the concept of an integrated social science, a complete theory of human action and interaction in all its ramifica tions and complications. What we call society is simply the totality of human exchange. Economics is a theory of human exchange of certain types. Although the qualities of what is being exchanged as well as the conditions of exchange may vary, economic theory has recently broadened its scope sufficiently to begin to be general enough to handle these problems as well. In the present work we attempt to see what insights are revealed by the application of economic categories to political history. We feel there are many. At this point Silver stops. ! Auster continues. A quick spin around the "policy" block in the new model so to speak, hence Chapter 8. For the rest, however, this is truly a joint work. The authors' names appear in alphabetical order. After 12 years of professional asso ciation, claims to precedence in origination could too clearly be self-deception. ! Silver is even more pessimistic than Auster, in particular about which types of reforms will be accepted. With the rise to affluence of most members of our society the mass itself has become concerned with political reform as almost a new form of entertainment. Unfor tunately, they have no idea how to improve matters.