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System Effects : Complexity in Political and Social Life - Robert Jervis

System Effects

Complexity in Political and Social Life

Paperback Published: 17th January 1999
ISBN: 9780691005300
Number Of Pages: 328

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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 Effects" concludes 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.

Industry Reviews

Co-Winner of the 1998 Best Book Award, Political Psychology Section of the American Political Science Association Winner of the 1998 Lionel Trilling Award, Columbia University Honorable Mention for the 1997 Award for Best Professional/Scholarly Book in Government and Political Science, Association of American Publishers One of Choice's Outstanding Academic Titles for 1998 "Drawing on a diverse body of scholarly research and a wealth of illuminating examples, Jervis shows that 'system effects' are an important and often overlooked part of social and political life... His insights will capture the imagination of those who puzzle over other social problems as well... Viewed as a whole, System Effects offers a sobering and valuable moral."--Steven M. Walt, The Atlantic Monthly "There are few doubts that System Effects is an important and timely book, one that should be studied closely not only by Foreign Offices, but by all people faced with the task of making decisions while uncertain about the consequences of alternative actions--and such people make a very large readership indeed."--Zygmunt Bauman, The Times Literary Supplement

Prefacep. ix
Introduction: The Puzzlep. 3
The Rise of Reformp. 10
Things Fall Apartp. 12
The Middle Class and National Health Care Reformp. 16
Media Coverage of Health Care Reformp. 20
Health Care Reform and the Congressional Agendap. 23
Momentum toward Reform in Congressp. 27
The Impact of the Pennsylvania Electionp. 31
Conclusionp. 40
A Prescription for Reformp. 42
The Influx of Economists into Health Policy Analysisp. 42
The Neoclassical Critiquep. 45
The Consumer Choice Health Plan and Its Criticsp. 47
A Consumer Choice Health Plan for the 1990sp. 51
The Birth of the Jackson Hole Groupp. 52
Framing the Jackson Hole Proposalp. 56
Drafting the Jackson Hole Proposalp. 60
The Advocacy of the New York Timesp. 63
The Support of Conservative Democratsp. 67
The President's "Comprehensive Health Care Reform Program"p. 71
Conclusionp. 72
The Liberal Synthesisp. 76
Liberals and the Long Struggle for Reformp. 77
From National Health Insurance to Single Payerp. 82
Health USA and the Liberal Adaptationp. 87
The Garamendi Plan and the Liberal Synthesisp. 90
Paul Starr and the Liberal Compromisep. 95
Conclusionp. 97
The Campaignp. 100
The Early Campaignp. 101
The Politics of Ambiguityp. 104
The Politics of Discoveryp. 108
Conclusionp. 116
The Planp. 117
The Presidential Transitionp. 119
The Task Forcep. 122
Politics, Pressure, and the Planp. 129
The Public Campaignp. 138
Unveiling the Planp. 142
Conclusionp. 149
Conclusionp. 152
Power and the Public Agendap. 153
Ideas and Policy Communitiesp. 155
Leadership and Political Innovationp. 160
The Jackson Hole Proposal and the Rise of a Credible Alternativep. 162
The Liberal Synthesisp. 165
The Clinton Planp. 166
The Failure of Reformp. 170
The Promise and the Limits of American Politicsp. 180
Methodologyp. 183
Jackson Hole Participants, 1990-1992p. 186
California Insurance Commissioner's Health Care Advisory Committeep. 189
Notesp. 191
Indexp. 229
Table of Contents provided by Publisher. All Rights Reserved.

ISBN: 9780691005300
ISBN-10: 0691005303
Audience: Tertiary; University or College
Format: Paperback
Language: English
Number Of Pages: 328
Published: 17th January 1999
Publisher: Princeton University Press
Country of Publication: US
Dimensions (cm): 24.13 x 15.88  x 2.54
Weight (kg): 0.45