22 June, 2006

Current Library Loans

I've got a load of books on loan from the library of my university. I bet you are wondering what they are, so now I will tell you.

Robert D. Putnam (2000) Bowling Along: The Collapse and Revival of American Community

You know, that book about how people don't like joining things any more because they'd rather sit at home watching shite on TV (or posting to their stupid internet blogs). I borrowed it partly because the subject sounds kind of interesting, because it is kind of zeitgeisty, and as an example of good social research that has managed to say things which have resonated with people.

This book has lots of graphs showing things going down.

Robert Elgie (1999) Semi-Presidentialism in Europe

Robert Elgie is my thesis supervisor, though I've not met him yet as I don't actually have a thesis topic. I reckoned reading one of his books would be a good idea, partly just to be a lick and partly because I might end up doing some research on this semi-presidentialism business. What is semi-presidentialism? Well, in presidential regimes like that of the USA, executive power is completely focussed on this president guy elected (indirectly) by the people? On the other hand, parliamentary regimes like Germany have a purely ceremonial president appointed by parliament, with executive power being focussed on a premier whose power comes from their ability to command a parliamentary majority. In a semi-presidential regime, you have an elected president and also a premier requiring a parliamentary majority to govern; France is the classic semi-presidential regime.

As I said, I may do research on semi-presidentialism. I am thinking of looking at the politics of the Palestinian Authority through this kind of lens, though I might of course do something completely different.

Stephen R. Weart (1998)Never at War: Why Democracies Will Not Fight One Another

As you will recall, I am interested in that democratic peace hypothesis thing. I picked up this book more or less at random to see what kind of explanation people throw out for this observable phenomenon.

Duncan Green (1995) Silent Revolution: The Rise of Market Economics in Latin America

In some ways I am just playing catch-up on the Latin American course I did last semester, in others laying the ground work for Peadar Kirby's development course in the autumn. This is the first edition of this book, and the only one you can borrow on long loan. The more recent second edition is perhaps more interesting, as its subtitle is the more exciting The Rise and Crisis of Market Economics in Latin America.

Mancur Olson (1965) The Logic of Collective Action: Public Goods and the Theory of Groups

I gather this book is quite famous. I also reckon it might be the anti-Bowling Alone, as Olson comes across as seeing groups as a bit dodge and hostile to the natural desire of most people to be left alone. That, anyway, is something I picked up from reading Tom Garvin's Preventing The Future, a book I really ought to get round to reviewing.

James Der Derian(ed) (1995) International Theory: Critical Investigations

As you know, I love theory. I would like to do research guided by some of the more wacky International Relations theories. If you're into that kind of stuff, Der Der Derian is your only man.

John L. Esposito(ed) (1997) Political Islam: Revolution, Radicalism, or Reform?

Political Islam, very interesting.

Adam Przeworski et al (2000) Democracy and Development: Political Institutions and Well-Being in the World, 1950-1990

I have had this book recommended to me when I expressed an interest in doing research that sought to compare the economic performance of different regime types. This book has lots of complicated looking tables showing all sorts of important variables.

I always feel sorry for multiple authors who aren't the first named on a book... it must be really annoying to endlessly see yourself cited as "et al".

Adam Przeworski (1991) Democracy and the Market: Political |and Economic Reforms in Eastern Europe and Latin America

I have borrowed this for similar reasons to Przeworski's other book. In this one it seems like he is trying to show how political institutions affect economic outcomes.

I hope I actually read these books.


jennifer said...

That Bowling Alone book sounds like something I would (and should) like to read.

ian said...

Yeah, it's good fun - quite readable, says interesting things.

There is something very ironic about sitting in front of a computer screen writing about "Bowling Alone", when the alienating world of people in front of their TVs and computer screens is what he fingers as the enemy of civic life.

william said...

Dude, totally read Preventing the Future. Among other things, it's the faultline that Caroline and I lie on different sides of.

ian said...

Dude, I have totally read Preventing The Future, I just haven't reviewed it here yet.

I will enjoy holding the balance of power for as long as possible.