Friday, January 25, 2008

'Paradigms' in the Social Sciences

Interview with Charles Tilly

Bio: "Charles Tilly was born on May 20, 1929, in Lombard, Illinois (near Chicago). He was educated at Harvard and Oxford, obtaining the Ph.D. in sociology at Harvard in 1958. He has taught at University of Delaware, Harvard University, the University of Toronto, University of Michigan, the New School University, and Columbia University, where he now is the Joseph L. Buttenwieser Professor of Social Science..."

For more:

Paradigms in the Social Sciences

Historical Sociology

Causal Mechanisms

Big Questions

State Formation

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Capitalism Unleashed: Finance, Globalization, and Welfare

Reviewed by Engelbert Stockhammer, Vienna University of Economics and Business Administration, Austria
Andrew Glyn, who died recently (Dec 22, 2007), was a prominent socialist economist. His last book offers an excellent overview of the major transformations in advanced capitalist economies since 1980. Using macroeconomic statistics to bolster his arguments und building on a rich knowledge of relevant literature in many areas, Glyn gives an impressive account that is accessible and enlightening to the interested general reader and will be useful to professional economists.

The long boom of the postwar period had led to an increased power of labor. Labor’s increased income claims resulted in a period of heightened industrial and political conflict and in wage-price spiral (Chapter 1). From the late 1970s economic policy changed course (Chapter 2): monetary policy shifted to anti-inflationary policy, accepting the resulting mass unemployment as a necessary cost; fiscal policy shifted from the pursuit of full employment to budgetary consolidation; financial markets and product markets were deregulated, including large scale privatizations, and labor markets were reformed under the heading of ‘flexibilization’. All of these changes resulted in an economic contraction and a period of high unemployment.

Chapter 3 deals with the changes in the financial sector and the increasing role finance plays in the governance of non-financial businesses. Glyn notes that shareholder value orientation resulted in competitive downsizing, in higher pay rolls for CEO, in a series of financial scandals and in an increased frequency of financial crises. The link between consumption expenditures have and current income has been weakened in many countries. Consumption has often become the driving force of demand growth.

The effects of globalization are discussed in Chapter 4. Here Glyn highlights the increases of current account deficits and surpluses (relative to GDP) and the emergence of China as an important manufacturing exporter. He puts the discussion of globalization in perspective by noting that international trade is restricted to manufacturing goods and small segments of business services, but has no direct effect on the majority of jobs in advanced economies, which are predominantly in non-tradable services.

Developments in wages, employment and income distribution (Chapter 5) can thus not be fully explained by globalization. Glyn discusses the employment prospects of low skilled workers comparing the USA and Europe and rejects the equality-employment trade-off frequently found in the literature. The performance of liberalized economies with respect to growth and stability is evaluated in Chapter 6. Overall growth performance has been disappointing (even by the standards of the proponents of these changes): growth has failed to improve and even productivity growth in the USA is restricted to a few sectors.

Finally chapter 7 turns to policy issues. First, it highlights that the room for manoeuvre is greater that often presumed. Globalization has not led to a convergence towards a weak welfare state regime across countries. Rather, welfare state regimes have maintained their differences and have, if anything, become exacerbated. Social expenditures (as share of GDP) have decline more in the Anglo-Saxon countries than in Scandinavia. Second, Glyn draws on recent research that has used survey data to discover that people’s happiness depends on their position relative to other (rather than on some absolute level of consumption), to reiterate traditional progressive values of equality. The book then finishes by advocating a guaranteed basic income.

Overall Glyn has given an useful overview over recent developments. As the book covers terrain that many progressive Keynesian economists will agree on, its strength lies in synthesis and clarity of exposition rather than in its novelty. The book is concise and makes for a swift reading. As it covers a broad range of topics it has to be brief on some of the issues raised. Consequently there are some loose ends. For example the reader is left wondering what the significance of the technological revolution of ICT is. While Glyn seems to accept some importance in terms of negative employment performance for low skill workers in Europe (in Chapter 5), the effects and sustainability of productivity improvements due to ICT are questioned in Chapter 6. While the financial sector has become increasingly central to economic performance and financial crises have been become more frequent (chapter 3), chapter 6 notes that economic growth has become less volatile. The book often has an implicit focus on the UK and USA. The discussion of the European monetary and economic integration is rather short. The chapter on globalization treats China extensively, but fails to mention the central and eastern European transformation economies, which arguably may have even greater effects on European labor markets.

A short book will inevitably suffer from some omissions. The greatest weakness of the book, however, is the chapter outlining an alternative economic policy, which focuses almost exclusively on a guaranteed minimum income. While the idea may be worth discussing, it remains unclear how it will help to address the challenges raised by globalization and financialization so adeptly highlighted in the previous chapters. This inability to offer a compelling and feasible alternative to capitalism is hardly a shortcoming of Glyn. Rather it is symptomatic for the state of progressive economics. Overall Capitalism unleashed is a stimulating, useful and pleasantly concise book on the development of capitalism since the 1970s. As Glyn’s legacy it will serve as an excellent starting point for future generations of economists who seek to critically analyze the development of capitalist economies.
(European Association for Evolutionary Political Economy)
Reviews (Book Cover)

  • 'This is by far the best economic history of how capitalism developed since the end of World War II and in particular since the 1970s oil shock. It is full of valuable information and should be required reading for students, as it tells clearly the issues and problems that motivate current economic research and debate.
    ' - Richard B. Freeman, Herbert Ascherman Chair in Economics at Harvard University and Director of the Labor Studies Program at the National Bureau of Economic Research
  • 'For those of us who wish to work towards a juster world, despondent whining and wishful thinking are of little use. What we do need is a rigorous, well-documented, intellectually honest analysis of how and why capitalism has been tightening its grip over the world in the last few decades. Andrew Glyn's Capitalism Unleashed offers such an analysis. But it does more. It shows how this development calls for radical reforms different from those traditionally envisaged by capitalism's critics, and how it may well make them possible - at least if we prove persistent enough to keep pushing and clever enough to understand when and how.
    ' - Philippe Van Parijs, University of Louvain and Harvard University
  • 'A dominant orthodoxy requires intelligent critics. Capitalism is today's dominant orthodoxy; Oxford University's Andrew Glyn is that critic. In this short, lucid and penetrating book, he examines how and why a free market economy came to be restored over the past two and a half decades, while condemning many of its consequences. The free market has, he argues, not only failed to deliver accelerated growth, but has worsened inequality and undermined economic security. Supporters of market economies must not ignore such criticisms. In particular, they must recognise the compatibility of a dynamic market economy with an intelligently designed welfare state.' - Martin Wolf, Financial Times
  • 'This short book, which is written by one of Britain's foremost political economists, Andrew Glyn, is a gem. It is vintage Glyn - carefully and scrupulously documented, accessible, and to this reviewer, thoroughly convincing. This book provides a thoughtful and profound analysis of contemporary capitalism.' - Ajit Singh, Professor of Economics, University of Cambridge
  • 'In lucid prose, and with striking graphs and vivid quotes, Andrew Glyn lays out a concise economic history of developed countries in the last decades of the twentieth century. As he explains, there was a decisive and unexpected return to 'business as usual', but the economic and social benefits of this shift are much less clear.' - Adrian Wood, Professor of International Development, University of Oxford

Friday, January 18, 2008

The Great Journey of Love



What happens when your soul
Begins to awaken
Your eyes
And your heart
And the cells of your body
To the great Journey of Love?

First there is wonderful laughter
And probably precious tears

And a hundred sweet promises
And those heroic vows
No one can ever keep.

But still God is delighted and amused
You once tried to be a saint.

What happens when your soul
Begins to awake in this world

To our deep need to love
And serve the Friend?

O the Beloved
Will send you
One of His wonderful, wild companions ~
Like Hafiz.



Go for a walk, if it is not too dark.
Get some fresh air, try to smile.
Say something kind
To a safe-looking stranger, if one happens by.

Always exercise your heart's knowing.

You might as well attempt something real
Along this path:

Take your spouse or lover into your arms
The way you did when you first met.
Let tenderness pour from your eyes
The way the Sun gazes warmly on the earth.

Play a game with some children.
Extend yourself to a friend.
Sing a few ribald songs to your pets and plants -
Why not let them get drunk and wild!

Let's toast
Every rung we've climbed on Evolution's ladder.
Whisper, "I love you! I love you!"
To the whole mad world.

Let's stop reading about God -
We will never understand Him.

Jump to your feet, wave your fists,
Threaten and warn the whole Universe

That your heart can no longer live
Without real love!

(I Heard God Laughing - Renderings of Hafiz by Daniel Ladinsky)


Friday, January 11, 2008

Preparing for the Multipolar World: European Foreign and Security Policy in 2020

Charles Grant & Tomas Valasek, Centre for European Reform (CER)

With America's relative power likely to decline in the near future, the EU has to improve its institutions and capabilities if it is to emerge as a strong pillar of the likely new multipolar system, argues a Centre for European Reform (CER) analysis.

EU Security and Defence Policy

America's influence on the world scene will decrease between now and 2020, with other powers such as China, India and Brazil stepping in to secure their global share, thus transforming the world from a unipolar to a multipolar system, according to the authors.

So the question is not whether the international system will be multipolar but how this system will evolve, argues the December paper.

In the "undesirable" model, the various poles would coalesece into two hostile alliances, with the West lining up against "an axis of autocracies" (such as Russia or China) and the West versus Islam respectively - a scenario that could emerge following a Western attack on Iran, the authors state.

By contrast, the "desirable" model of multipolarity would be multilateral in nature, with all the poles committed to the rule of law and playing an active role in international institutions and treaties, the CER paper says.

Much will depend on Europe if the latter scenario is to become a reality, since the US, China and Russia are all capable of both multilateral and unilateral behaviour, according to the analysis.

The authors make seven concrete recommendations for the EU to follow in order to improve Europe's weight in the world:

1. A successful European economy. The perception that Europe is over-regulated and undynamic undermines the EU's 'soft power'. An economic reform agenda should prioritise a stronger competition policy, new schemes to attract skilled migrants and the further liberalisation of energy and services markets.

2. The EU should lead the world on climate change. If Europeans can make their own carbon-trading scheme a success, persuade the Americans to sign up to a global system and offer their environmental technologies to developing countries, they may convince most of the world to join them in a new system after Kyoto expires in 2012.

3. Continue EU enlargement to include predominantly Muslim countries such as Turkey. By doing so, the Union would gain more influence and respect in many parts of the world.

4. Strengthen the capabilities for delivering common foreign and security policies, namely by recruiting sufficient personnel to the external action service (EAS), which EU leaders agreed to set up in the Lisbon Treaty, and showing a clear commitment to deploying its forces around the globe.

5. Improve co-operation on justice and home affairs (JHA). As the Union will become much more involved in issues such as counter-terrorism, illegal immigration and organised crime, the EU should think about creating an Internal Action Service (IAS) by 2020, modelled on the EAS. By creating IAS, the existing EU agencies in the field of JHA could be forged into a single organisation and thereby improve their efficiency.

6. The EU has to maintain its strong support for international law and make an effort to renew the institutions of global governance. A priority would be the creation of a uranium bank, which – under the auspices of the IAEA – would supply fuel to all countries with a nuclear energy programme and by doing so, remove their need to operate their own enrichment cycles.

7. The Union must engage constructively with other global powers, including undemocratic ones, giving clear preference to the relationship with the US.

The authors conclude by saying that if Europe fails to persuade others of the benefits of multilateralism, its citizens will face a "very bleak 21st century".

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Friday, January 04, 2008

Social States: China in International Institutions

Alastair I. Johnston, Harvard University
Princeton University Press / 2007
Chapter 1
[HTML] or [PDF format]
"Constructive engagement" became a catchphrase under the Clinton administration for America's reinvigorated efforts to pull China firmly into the international community as a responsible player, one that abides by widely accepted norms. Skeptics questioned the effectiveness of this policy and those that followed. But how is such socialization supposed to work in the first place? This has never been all that clear, whether practiced by the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN), Japan, or the United States.

Social States is the first book to systematically test the effects of socialization in international relations--to help explain why players on the world stage may be moved to cooperate when doing so is not in their material power interests. Alastair Iain Johnston carries out his groundbreaking theoretical task through a richly detailed look at China's participation in international security institutions during two crucial decades of the "rise of China," from 1980 to 2000. Drawing on sociology and social psychology, this book examines three microprocesses of socialization--mimicking, social influence, and persuasion--as they have played out in the attitudes of Chinese diplomats active in the Conference on Disarmament, the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban, the Convention on Conventional Weapons, and the ASEAN Regional Forum. Among the key conclusions: Chinese officials in the post-Mao era adopted more cooperative and more self-constraining commitments to arms control and disarmament treaties, thanks to their increasing social interactions in international security institutions.

Alastair Iain Johnston is the Governor James Noe and Linda Noe Laine Professor of China in World Affairs at Harvard University.

"This book is most significant for theoretical, empirical, and political reasons. Theoretically, it explores in detail micromechanisms of socialization, moving way beyond the traditional rationalist-constructivist divide. Empirically, the book demonstrates that even China changes through socialization in international institutions. The political conclusions are obvious: Keep socializing China rather than balancing!"--Thomas Risse, Freie Universität Berlin

"This eagerly awaited book offers the most compelling analysis for China's 'peaceful rise' that I know of. Iain Johnston displays a complete mastery of international relations theory, a profound knowledge of Chinese foreign policy and East Asian regionalism, and impressive control over modern social science methods. For many years to come this will be the landmark study of one of the most important developments in contemporary world politics."--Peter J. Katzenstein, Cornell University

"Iain Johnston's Social States is a must-read for all students of international relations theory, international institutions, and international security. With his characteristic hardheaded and systematically minded approach to the big debates in international relations, Johnston has produced the single-best statement regarding socialization in contemporary global affairs. And his deep knowledge of China and institutional institutions allows him to address some of the most critical questions regarding the future global order."--Michael Barnett, University of Minnesota

Table of Contents:
Acronyms vii
Acknowledgments xi
Preface xiii
CHAPTER 1: Socialization in International Relations Theory 1
CHAPTER 2: Mimicking 45
CHAPTER 3: Social Influence 74
CHAPTER 4: Persuasion 155
CHAPTER 5: Conclusions 197
References 213
Index 241
Thomas J. Christensen, G. John Ikenberry, and Marc Trachtenberg
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