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Tag Archive: Paul Pierson

Positive Feedback in the Political (Pierson’s Path Dependence)

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(From the Open House Project blog.)

I'm reading Politics in Time by Paul Pierson (link), and am struck by how little academic political science seems to affect government policy and political discussion. I find political and social analysis incredibly stimulating, especially given how tiresome I find the current presidential punditizing.

I'm particularly interested in Pierson's purportedly novel conception of how political institutions develop over time, apparently filling the gaps that other models fail to address. (He sets his conceptions against "historical institutionalism" and "rational choice theory".) His analysis is abstract enough to be rigorous and challenging at first, but takes a broad enough view that he can abstract common elements out of disparate systems in a useful, applicable manner. He seeks to "explicate different ways in which things happen over time in social life, drawing attention to processes that are unlikely to be visible without specifically addressing questions of temporality" (p. 10). (more)

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