System Effects Complexity in Political and Social Life

ISBN-10: 0691005303
ISBN-13: 9780691005300
Edition: 1997
Authors: Robert Jervis
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Description: Based on more than three decades of observation, Robert Jervis concludes in this provocative book that the very foundations of many social science theories--especially those in political science--are faulty. Taking insights from complexity theory as  More...

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Book details

List price: $52.50
Copyright year: 1997
Publisher: Princeton University Press
Publication date: 1/17/1999
Binding: Paperback
Pages: 328
Size: 6.25" wide x 9.50" long x 1.00" tall
Weight: 1.232
Language: English

Based on more than three decades of observation, Robert Jervis concludes in this provocative book that the very foundations of many social science theories--especially those in political science--are faulty. Taking insights from complexity theory as his point of departure, the author observes that we live in a world where things are interconnected, where unintended consequences of our actions are unavoidable and unpredictable, and where the total effect of behavior is not equal to the sum of individual actions. Jervis draws on a wide range of human endeavors to illustrate the nature of these system effects. He shows how increasing airport security might actually cost lives, not save them, and how removing dead trees (ostensibly to give living trees more room) may damage the health of an entire forest. Similarly, he highlights the interconnectedness of the political world as he describes how the Cold War played out and as he narrates the series of events--with their unintended consequences--that escalated into World War I. The ramifications of developing a rigorous understanding of politics are immense, as Jervis demonstrates in his critique of current systemic theories of international politics--especially the influential work done by Kenneth Waltz. Jervis goes on to examine various types of negative and positive feedback, bargaining in different types of relationships, and the polarizing effects of alignments to begin building a foundation for a more realistic, more nuanced, theory of international politics.System Effectsconcludes by examining what it means to act in a system. It shows how political actors might modify their behavior in anticipation of system effects, and it explores how systemic theories of political behavior might account for the role of anticipation and strategy in political action. This work introduces powerful new concepts that will reward not only international relations theorists, but also all social scientists with interests in comparative politics and political theory.

Preface
Introduction: The Puzzle
The Rise of Reform
Things Fall Apart
The Middle Class and National Health Care Reform
Media Coverage of Health Care Reform
Health Care Reform and the Congressional Agenda
Momentum toward Reform in Congress
The Impact of the Pennsylvania Election
Conclusion
A Prescription for Reform
The Influx of Economists into Health Policy Analysis
The Neoclassical Critique
The Consumer Choice Health Plan and Its Critics
A Consumer Choice Health Plan for the 1990s
The Birth of the Jackson Hole Group
Framing the Jackson Hole Proposal
Drafting the Jackson Hole Proposal
The Advocacy of the New York Times
The Support of Conservative Democrats
The President's "Comprehensive Health Care Reform Program"
Conclusion
The Liberal Synthesis
Liberals and the Long Struggle for Reform
From National Health Insurance to Single Payer
Health USA and the Liberal Adaptation
The Garamendi Plan and the Liberal Synthesis
Paul Starr and the Liberal Compromise
Conclusion
The Campaign
The Early Campaign
The Politics of Ambiguity
The Politics of Discovery
Conclusion
The Plan
The Presidential Transition
The Task Force
Politics, Pressure, and the Plan
The Public Campaign
Unveiling the Plan
Conclusion
Conclusion
Power and the Public Agenda
Ideas and Policy Communities
Leadership and Political Innovation
The Jackson Hole Proposal and the Rise of a Credible Alternative
The Liberal Synthesis
The Clinton Plan
The Failure of Reform
The Promise and the Limits of American Politics
Methodology
Jackson Hole Participants, 1990-1992
California Insurance Commissioner's Health Care Advisory Committee
Notes
Index

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