Books

Rethinking Power

Rethinking Power It’s about time for us to rethink what power means. I’ve felt that way for some time especially when I’ve had to think about the ways in which my work as a peacebuilder and as a political scientist do not mesh. It took reading Dacher Keltner’s The Power Paradox to have the pieces begin to fall into place. Keltner is a social psychologist who understands the traditional definition of power we political scientists have used at least since the time of Machiavelli. As Robert Dahl put it in the 1950s: A has power over B to the extent that he can get B to do something that B would not otherwise do. In other words, [...]

Rethinking Power 2018-02-05T13:12:24+00:00

Peacebuilding and Democracy

Peacebuilding and Democracy Until last Thursday afternoon, I was planning to write about what comparative politics research can do to help peacebuilders. Then, I ran into my friend Jim Pfiffner of George Mason University's Schar School of Policy and Government. Jim is a scholar of the presidency who has written books on judging the character of our chief executive--among many other things. Jim is also one of the most thoughtful people I know. And since we hadn't seen each other in ages and since we are both political scientists, our discussion immediately turned to the Trump presidency--even before we mentioned our grandkids. I had just finished reviewing Steven Levitsky and Danie Ziblatt's How Democracies Die. As we discussed [...]

Peacebuilding and Democracy 2018-01-21T16:44:35+00:00

Are We Family?

Are We Family? I recently read AJ Jacobs’ It’s All Relative and reviewed it on my web site. It made me think a lot (as well as laugh a lot), so I thought I would spend this week’s blog post reflecting on what I take to be his implications for the work I do as a peacebuilder and a student of comparative politics. The book traces the way Jacobs used his global family reunion and its meme, “I am a cousin,” to help people see that we are all connected and, indeed, (distantly) related. Jacobs is a writer, not an activist. So, it is hardly surprising that he didn’t take some of the implications of “we are [...]

Are We Family? 2018-01-07T21:33:57+00:00

On Trust

As a comparative political scientist and peacebuilder, I have to be interested in trust, and I have to be worried about the declining trust both in the country I live in and in the ones I study. Restoring and rebuilding trust seems to be a requirement for making significant progress in solving any of the vexing issues in our social, political, and economic lives today. And the news on that front isn’t terribly encouraging these days….r Luckily, a book and an article crossed my desk this week that address how trust can be restored, albeit in very different ways. First is Rachel Botsman’s delightful book, Who Can We Trust.  She starts from a premise most of my colleagues [...]

On Trust 2017-12-26T18:28:14+00:00