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The Ambiguities of Experience

by James G. March

"The first component of intelligence involves effective adaptation to an environment. In order to adapt effectively, organizations require resources, capabilities at using them, knowledge about the worlds in which they exist, good fortune, and good decisions. They typically face competition for resources and uncertainties about the future. Many, but possibly not all, of the factors determining their fates are outside their control. Populations of organizations and individual organizations survive, in part, presumably because they possess adaptive intelligence; but survival is by no means assured. The second component of intelligence involves the elegance of interpretations of the experiences of life. Such interpretations encompass both theories of history and philosophies of meaning, but they go beyond such things to comprehend the grubby details of daily existence. Interpretations decorate human existence. They make a claim to significance that is independent of their contribution to effective action. Such intelligence glories in the contemplation, comprehension, and appreciation of life, not just the control of it."—from The Ambiguities of Experience

In The Ambiguities of Experience, James G. March asks a deceptively simple question: What is, or should be, the role of experience in creating intelligence, particularly in organizations? Folk wisdom both trumpets the significance of experience and warns of its inadequacies. On one hand, experience is described as the best teacher. On the other hand, experience is described as the teacher of fools, of those unable or unwilling to learn from accumulated knowledge or the teaching of experts. The disagreement between those folk aphorisms reflects profound questions about the human pursuit of intelligence through learning from experience that have long confronted philosophers and social scientists. This book considers the unexpected problems organizations (and the individuals in them) face when they rely on experience to adapt, improve, and survive.

While acknowledging the power of learning from experience and the extensive use of experience as a basis for adaptation and for constructing stories and models of history, this book examines the problems with such learning. March argues that although individuals and organizations are eager to derive intelligence from experience, the inferences stemming from that eagerness are often misguided. The problems lie partly in errors in how people think, but even more so in properties of experience that confound learning from it. "Experience," March concludes, "may possibly be the best teacher, but it is not a particularly good teacher."

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Anatomy of the Red Brigades

The Religious Mind-set of Modern Terrorists

by Alessandro Orsini; translated by Sarah J. Nodes

The Red Brigades were a far-left terrorist group in Italy formed in 1970 and active all through the 1980s. Infamous around the world for a campaign of assassinations, kidnappings, and bank robberies intended as a "concentrated strike against the heart of the State," the Red Brigades' most notorious crime was the kidnapping and murder of Italy's former prime minister Aldo Moro in 1978. In the late 1990s, a new group of violent anticapitalist terrorists revived the name Red Brigades and killed a number of professors and government officials. Like their German counterparts in the Baader-Meinhof Group and today's violent political and religious extremists, the Red Brigades and their actions raise a host of questions about the motivations, ideologies, and mind-sets of people who commit horrific acts of violence in the name of a utopia.

In the first English edition of a book that has won critical acclaim and major prizes in Italy, Alessandro Orsini contends that the dominant logic of the Red Brigades was essentially eschatological, focused on purifying a corrupt world through violence. Only through revolutionary terror, Brigadists believed, could humanity be saved from the putrefying effects of capitalism and imperialism. Through a careful study of all existing documentation produced by the Red Brigades and of all existing scholarship on the Red Brigades, Orsini reconstructs a worldview that can be as seductive as it is horrifying. Orsini has devised a micro-sociological theory that allows him to reconstruct the group dynamics leading to political homicide in extreme-left and neonazi terrorist groups. This "subversive-revolutionary feedback theory" states that the willingness to mete out and suffer death depends, in the last analysis, on how far the terrorist has been incorporated into the revolutionary sect.

Orsini makes clear that this political-religious concept of historical development is central to understanding all such self-styled "purifiers of the world." From Thomas Müntzer's theocratic dream to Pol Pot's Cambodian revolution, all the violent "purifiers" of the world have a clear goal: to build a perfect society in which there will no longer be any sin and unhappiness and in which no opposition can be allowed to upset the universal harmony. Orsini's book reconstructs the origins and evolution of a revolutionary tradition brought into our own times by the Red Brigades.

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Anthropologies of Unemployment

New Perspectives on Work and Its Absence

edited by Jong Bum Kwon and Carrie M. Lane

Anthropologies of Unemployment offers accessible, theoretically innovative, and ethnographically rich examinations of unemployment in rural and urban regions across North and South America, Europe, Africa, and Asia. The diversity of case studies demonstrates that unemployment is a pressing global phenomenon that sheds light on the uneven consequences of free-market ideologies and policies. Economic, social, and cultural marginalization is common in the lives of the unemployed, but their experience and interpretation are shaped by local and national cultural particularities. In exploring those differences, the contributors to this volume employ recent theoretical innovations and engage with some of the more salient topics in contemporary anthropology, such as globalization, migration, youth cultures, bureaucracy, class, gender, and race.

Taken together, the chapters reveal that there is something new about unemployment today. It is not a temporary occurrence, but a chronic condition. In adjusting to persistent, longstanding unemployment, people and groups create new understandings of unemployment as well as of work and employment; they improvise new forms of sociality, morality, and personhood. Ethnographic studies such as those found in Anthropologies of Unemployment are crucial if we are to understand the broader forms, meanings, and significance of pervasive economic insecurity and discover the emergence of new social and cultural possibilities.

Contributors
Josh Fisher, High Point University
David Karjanen, University of Minnesota
Ann E. Kingsolver, University of Kentucky
Jong Bum Kwon, Webster University
Carrie M. Lane, California State University, Fullerton
Caitrin Lynch, Olin College
Daniel Mains, University of Oklahoma
John P. Murphy, Gettysburg College
Mariano D. Perelman, University of Buenos Aires
Frances Abrahamer Rothstein, Montclair State University
Claudia Strauss, Pitzer College

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Anti-Americanisms in World Politics

Anti-Americanism has been the subject of much commentary but little serious research. In response, Peter J. Katzenstein and Robert O. Keohane have assembled a distinguished group of experts, including historians, polling-data analysts, political scientists, anthropologists, and sociologists, to explore anti-Americanism in depth, using both qualitative and quantitative methods. The result is a book that probes deeply a central aspect of world politics that is frequently noted yet rarely understood.

Katzenstein and Keohane identify several quite different anti-Americanisms-liberal, social, sovereign-nationalist, and radical. Some forms of anti-Americanism respond merely to what the United States does, and could change when U.S. policies change. Other forms are reactions to what the United States is, and involve greater bias and distrust. The complexity of anti-Americanism, they argue, reflects the cultural and political complexities of American society. The analysis in this book leads to a surprising discovery: there are as many ways to be anti-American as there are ways to be American.

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Antiques

The History of an Idea

by Leon Rosenstein

The notion of retrieving a bit of the past-by owning a material piece of it-has always appealed to humans. Often our most prized possessions are those that have had a long history before they came into our hands. Part of the pleasure we gain from the encounter with antiques stems from the palpable age and the assumed (sometimes imaginary) cultural resonances of the particular object. But precisely what is it about these objects that creates this attraction? What common characteristics do they share and why and how do these traits affect us as they do?

In Antiques: The History of an Idea, Leon Rosenstein, a distinguished philosopher who has also been an antiques dealer for more than twenty years, offers a sweeping and lively account of the origin and development of the antique as both a cultural concept and an aesthetic category. He shows that the appeal of antiques is multifaceted: it concerns their value as commodities, their age and historical and cultural associations, their uniqueness, their sensuous and tactile values, their beauty. Exploring how the idea of antiques evolved over time, Rosenstein chronicles the history of antique collecting and connoisseurship. He describes changing conceptions of the past in different epochs as evidenced by preservations, restorations, and renascences; examines shifting attitudes toward foreign cultures as revealed in stylistic borrowings and the importation of artifacts; and investigates varying understandings of and meanings assigned to their traits and functions as historical objects.

While relying on the past for his evidence, Rosenstein approaches antiques from an entirely original perspective, setting history within a philosophical framework. He begins by providing a working definition of antiques that distinguishes them from other artifacts in general and, more distinctly, both from works of fine art and from the collectible detritus of popular culture. He then establishes a novel set of criteria for determining when an artifact is an antique: ten traits that an object must possess in order to elicit the aesthetic response that is unique to antiques. Concluding with a provocative discussion of the relation between antiques and civilization, this engaging and thought-provoking book helps explain the enduring appeal of owning a piece of the past.

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Armed State Building

Confronting State Failure, 1898-2012

by Paul D. Miller

Since 1898, the United States and the United Nations have deployed military force more than three dozen times in attempts to rebuild failed states. Currently there are more state-building campaigns in progress than at any time in the past century—including Afghanistan, Bosnia, Kosovo, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Haiti, Sudan, Liberia, Cote d’Ivoire, and Lebanon—and the number of candidate nations for such campaigns in the future is substantial. Even with a broad definition of success, earlier campaigns failed more than half the time. In this book, Paul D. Miller brings his decade in the U.S. military, intelligence community, and policy worlds to bear on the question of what causes armed, international state-building campaigns by liberal powers to succeed or fail.

The United States successfully rebuilt the West German and Japanese states after World War II but failed to build a functioning state in South Vietnam. After the Cold War the United Nations oversaw relatively successful campaigns to restore order, hold elections, and organize post-conflict reconstruction in Mozambique, Namibia, Nicaragua, and elsewhere, but those successes were overshadowed by catastrophes in Angola, Liberia, and Somalia. The recent effort in Iraq and the ongoing one in Afghanistan—where Miller had firsthand military, intelligence, and policymaking experience—are yielding mixed results, despite the high levels of resources dedicated and the long duration of the missions there. Miller outlines different types of state failure, analyzes various levels of intervention that liberal states have tried in the state-building process, and distinguishes among the various failures and successes those efforts have provoked.

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Artifice and Design

Art and Technology in Human Experience

"As familiar and widely appreciated works of modern technology, bridges are a good place to study the relationship between the aesthetic and the technical. Fully engaged technical design is at once aesthetic and structural. In the best work (the best design, the most well made), the look and feel of a device (its aesthetic, perceptual interface) is as important a part of the design problem as its mechanism (the interface of parts and systems). We have no idea how to make something that is merely efficient, a rational instrument blindly indifferent to how it appears. No engineer can design such a thing and none has ever been built."-from Artifice and Design

In an intriguing book about the aesthetics of technological objects and the relationship between technical and artistic accomplishment, Barry Allen develops the philosophical implications of a series of interrelated concepts-knowledge, artifact, design, tool, art, and technology-and uses them to explore parallel questions about artistry in technology and technics in art. This may be seen at the heart of Artifice and Design in Allen's discussion of seven bridges: he focuses at length on two New York bridges-the Hell Gate Bridge and the Bayonne Bridge-and makes use of original sources for insight into the designers' ideas about the aesthetic dimensions of their work. Allen starts from the conviction that art and technology must be treated together, as two aspects of a common, technical human nature.

The topics covered in Artifice and Design are wide-ranging and interdisciplinary, drawing from evolutionary biology, cognitive psychology, and the history and anthropology of art and technology. The book concludes that it is a mistake to think of art as something subjective, or as an arbitrary social representation, and of Technology as an instrumental form of purposive rationality. "By segregating art and technology," Allen writes, "we divide ourselves against ourselves, casting up self-made obstacles to the ingenuity of art and technology."

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Asia's Flying Geese

How Regionalization Shapes Japan

by Walter F. Hatch

In Asia's Flying Geese, Walter F. Hatch tackles the puzzle of Japan's paradoxically slow change during the economic crisis it faced in the 1990s. Why didn't the purportedly unstoppable pressures of globalization force a rapid and radical shift in Japan's business model? In a book with lessons for the larger debate about globalization and its impact on national economies, Hatch shows how Japanese political and economic elites delayed-but could not in the end forestall-the transformation of their distinctive brand of capitalism by trying to extend it to the rest of Asia.

For most of the 1990s, the region grew rapidly as an increasingly integrated but hierarchical group of economies. Japanese diplomats and economists came to call them "flying geese." The "lead goose" or most developed economy, Japan, supplied the capital, technology, and even developmental norms to second-tier "geese" such as Singapore and South Korea, which themselves traded with Thailand, Malaysia, and the Philippines, and so on down the V-shaped line to Indonesia and coastal China. Japan's model of capitalism, which Hatch calls "relationalism," was thus fortified, even as it became increasingly outdated. Japanese elites enjoyed enormous benefits from their leadership in the region as long as the flock found ready markets for their products in the West.

The decade following the collapse of Japan's real estate and stock markets would, however, see two developments that ultimately eroded the country's economic dominance. The Asian economic crisis in the late 1990s destabilized many of the surrounding economies upon which Japan had in some measure depended, and the People's Republic of China gained new prominence on the global scene as an economic dynamo. These changes, Hatch concludes, have forced real transformation in Japan's corporate governance, its domestic politics, and in its ongoing relations with its neighbors.

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