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Blindside Cover

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Blindside

How to Anticipate Forcing Events and Wild Cards in Global Politics

edited by Francis Fukuyama

A host of catastrophes, natural and otherwise, as well as some pleasant surprises —like the sudden end of the cold war without a shot being fired —have caught governments and societies unprepared many times in recent decades. September 11 is only the most obvious recent example among many unforeseen events that have changed, even redefined our lives. We have every reason to expect more such events in future. Several kinds of unanticipated scenarios —particularly those of low probability and high impact —have the potential to escalate into systemic crises. Even positive surprises can be major policy challenges. Anticipating and managing low-probability events is a critically important challenge to contemporary policymakers, who increasingly recognize that they lack the analytical tools to do so. Developing such tools is the focus of this insightful and perceptive volume, edited by renowned author Francis Fukuyama and sponsored by The American Interest magazine. Bl indside is organized into four main sections. "Thinking about Strategic Surprise" addresses the psychological and institutional obstacles that prevent leaders from planning for low-probability tragedies and allocating the necessary resources to deal with them. The following two sections pinpoint the failures —institutional as well as personal —that allowed key historical events to take leaders by surprise, and examine the philosophies and methodologies of forecasting. In "Pollyana vs. Cassandra," for example, James Kurth and Gregg Easterbrook debate the future state of the world going forward. Mitchell Waldrop explores why technology forecasting is so poor and why that is likely to remain the case. In the book's final section, "What Could Be," internationally renowned authorities discuss low probability, high-impact contingencies in their area of expertise. For example, Scott Barrett looks at emerging infectious diseases, while Gal Luft and Anne Korin discuss energy security. How can we avoid being blindsided by unforeseen events? There is no easy or obvious answer. But it is essential that we understand the obstacles that prevent us first from seeing the future clearly and then from acting appropriately on our insights. This readable and fascinating book is an important step in that direction.

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Bloomberg's New York

Class and Governance in the Luxury City

Julian Brash

New York mayor Michael Bloomberg claims to run the city like a business. In Bloomberg’s New York, Julian Brash applies methods from anthropology, geography, and other social science disciplines to examine what that means. He describes the mayor’s attitude toward governance as the Bloomberg Way—a philosophy that holds up the mayor as CEO, government as a private corporation, desirable residents and businesses as customers and clients, and the city itself as a product to be branded and marketed as a luxury good.
 
Commonly represented as pragmatic and nonideological, the Bloomberg Way, Brash argues, is in fact an ambitious reformulation of neoliberal governance that advances specific class interests. He considers the implications of this in a blow-by-blow account of the debate over the Hudson Yards plan, which aimed to transform Manhattan’s far west side into the city’s next great high-end district. Bringing this plan to fruition proved surprisingly difficult as activists and entrenched interests pushed back against the Bloomberg administration, suggesting that despite Bloomberg’s success in redrawing the rules of urban governance, older political arrangements—and opportunities for social justice—remain.

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Boom for Whom?

Education, Desegregation, and Development in Charlotte

Bringing a new perspective to Charlotte’s landmark school desegregation efforts, Stephen Samuel Smith provides a multi-faceted history of the nationally praised mandatory busing plan and the court battle that led to its ultimate demise. Although both black and white children benefited from busing, its most ongoing consequences were not educational, but the political and economic ones that served the interests of Charlotte’s business elite and facilitated the city’s economic boom. Drawing on urban regime theory, Smith shows how busing enhanced civic capacity and was part of a political alliance between Charlotte’s business elite and black political leaders. This account of Charlotte’s history has national implications for desegregation, urban education, efforts to build civic capacity, and the political involvement of the urban poor.

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Boomburbs

The Rise of America's Accidental Cities

Robert E. Lang and Jennifer B. LeFurgy

A glance at a list of America's fastest growing "cities" reveals quite a surprise: most are really overgrown suburbs. Places such as Anaheim, California, Coral Springs, Florida, Naperville, Illinois, North Las Vegas, Nevada, and Plano, Texas, have swelled to big-city size with few people really noticing —including many of their ten million residents. These "boomburbs" are large, rapidly growing, incorporated communities of more than 100,000 residents that are not the biggest city in their region. Here, Robert E. Lang and Jennifer B. LeFurgy explain who lives in them, what they look like, how they are governed, and why their rise calls into question the definition of urban.

Located in over twenty-five major metro areas throughout the United States, numerous boomburbs have doubled, tripled, even quadrupled in size between census reports. Some are now more populated than traditional big cities. The population of the biggest boomburb —Mesa, Arizona —recently surpassed that of Minneapolis and Miami.

Typically large and sprawling, boomburbs are "accidental cities," but not because they lack planning. Many are made up of master-planned communities that have grown into one another. Few anticipated becoming big cities and unintentionally arrived at their status. Although boomburbs possess elements found in cities such as housing, retailing, offices, and entertainment, they lack large downtowns. But they can contain high-profile industries and entertainment venues: the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim and Arizona Cardinals are among over a dozen major-league sports teams who play in the boomburbs.

Urban in fact but not in feel, these drive-by cities of highways, office parks, and shopping malls are much more horizontally built and less pedestrian friendly than most older suburbs. And, contrary to common perceptions of suburbia, they are not rich and elitist. Poverty is often seen in boomburb communities of small single-family homes, neighborhoods that once represented the American dream.

Boomburbs are a quintessential American landscape, embodying much of the nation's complexity, expansiveness, and ambiguity. This fascinating look at the often contradictory world of boomburbs examines why America's suburbs are thriving and how they are shaping the lives of millions of residents.

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Boosting Paychecks

The Politics of Supporting America's Working Poor

Daniel P. Gitterman

When most people think of policies designed to help the poor, welfare is the first program that comes to mind. Traditionally welfare has served individuals who do not work —hence much of the stigma that some attach to the program. An equally important strand of American social policy, however, is meant to support low-wage workers and their families. In Boosting Paychecks, Daniel Gitterman illuminates this often neglected part of the American safety net.

Gitterman focuses on two sets of policy instruments that have been used to aid the working poor since the early twentieth century: the federal tax code and the minimum wage. The income tax code can be fine-tuned in many ways —through exemptions, deductions, credits, changing tax brackets and rates —to alter the amount of income workers are left with at the end of the day. In addition, it interacts with the minimum wage to determine the economic well-being of many lowincome households. Boosting Paychecks analyzes the partisan politics that have shaped these policies since the New Deal era, with particular attention paid to the past three decades. It also examines the degree to which they have succeeded in lifting low-wage workers and their families out of poverty.

Forging a new political bargain that balances labor market flexibility with security for poor working families is one of the most critical challenges facing government today. Boosting Paychecks sheds new light on the scope of this challenge and the political constraints and opportunities policymakers face.

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Borderlands

Comparing Border Security in North America and Europe

Emmanuel Brunet-Jailly

Border security has been high on public-policy agendas in Europe and North America since the September 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Centre in New York City and on the headquarters of the American military in Washington DC. Governments are now confronted with managing secure borders, a policy objective that in this era of increased free trade and globalization must compete with intense cross-border flows of people and goods. Border-security policies must enable security personnel to identify, or filter out, dangerous individuals and substances from among the millions of travelers and tons of goods that cross borders daily, particularly in large cross-border urban regions. This book addresses this gap between security needs and an understanding of borders and borderlands. Specifically, the chapters in this volume ask policy-makers to recognize that two fundamental elements define borders and borderlands: first, human activities (the agency and agent power of individual ties and forces spanning a border), and second, the broader social processes that frame individual action, such as market forces, government activities (law, regulations, and policies), and the regional culture and politics of a borderland. Borders emerge as the historically and geographically variable expression of human ties exercised within social structures of varying force and influence, and it is the interplay and interdependence between people's incentives to act and the surrounding structures (i.e. constructed social processes that contain and constrain individual action) that determine the effectiveness of border security policies. This book argues that the nature of borders is to be porous, which is a problem for security policy makers. It shows that when for economic, cultural, or political reasons human activities increase across a border and borderland, governments need to increase cooperation and collaboration with regard to security policies, if only to avoid implementing mismatched security policies.

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Borrowing to Live

Consumer and Mortgage Credit Revisited

edited by Nicolas P. Retsinas and Eric S. Belsky

Americans are awash in debt, and the U.S. economy is in trouble. Credit undergirds daily life more than ever —it has become one of the defining aspects of American life, and the ramifications are becoming clearer by the day. The already considerable damage from a depressed housing market has been exacerbated by the subprime lender implosion, sending shock waves through the financial sector, international economies, and government at all levels. Most low- or moderate-income people borrow, but that should not be construed as uniformly poor judgment or lack of disciplines —Americans are not borrowing merely to keep up with the Joneses, but too often simply to stay afloat.

In Borrowing to Live, the Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University brings together a group of experts drawn from the best of academia, research, and public services. Together with editors Nicolas Retsinas and Eric Belsky, they dissect the worrisome current state of consumer and mortgage credit in the United States and help point the way out of the current struggles.

Contributors: Michael S. Barr, Eric S. Belsky, Raphael W. Bostic, Shawn Cole, Amy Crews Cutts, Kathleen C. Engel, Ren S. Essene, Elaine Kempson, Patricia A. McCoy, William A. Merrill, Sendhil Mullainathan, Anthony Pennington-Cross, Elizabeth Renuart, Eldar Shafir, Edna R. Sawady, Jennifer Tescher, John Thompson, Peter Tufano, Susan M. Wachter

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Boulevard of Broken Dreams

Why Public Efforts to Boost Entrepreneurship and Venture Capital Have Failed--and What to Do About It

Josh Lerner

Silicon Valley, Singapore, Tel Aviv--the global hubs of entrepreneurial activity--all bear the marks of government investment. Yet, for every public intervention that spurs entrepreneurial activity, there are many failed efforts that waste untold billions in taxpayer dollars. When has governmental sponsorship succeeded in boosting growth, and when has it fallen terribly short? Should the government be involved in such undertakings at all? Boulevard of Broken Dreams is the first extensive look at the ways governments have supported entrepreneurs and venture capitalists across decades and continents. Josh Lerner, one of the foremost experts in the field, provides valuable insights into why some public initiatives work while others are hobbled by pitfalls, and he offers suggestions for how public ventures should be implemented in the future.

Discussing the complex history of Silicon Valley and other pioneering centers of venture capital, Lerner uncovers the extent of government influence in prompting growth. He examines the public strategies used to advance new ventures, points to the challenges of these endeavors, and reveals the common flaws undermining far too many programs--poor design, a lack of understanding for the entrepreneurial process, and implementation problems. Lerner explains why governments cannot dictate how venture markets evolve, and why they must balance their positions as catalysts with an awareness of their limited ability to stimulate the entrepreneurial sector.

As governments worldwide seek to spur economic growth in ever more aggressive ways, Boulevard of Broken Dreams offers an important caution. The book argues for a careful approach to government support of entrepreneurial activities, so that the mistakes of earlier efforts are not repeated.

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Boundaries of Contagion

How Ethnic Politics Have Shaped Government Responses to AIDS

Evan S. Lieberman

Why have governments responded to the HIV/AIDS pandemic in such different ways? During the past quarter century, international agencies and donors have disseminated vast resources and a set of best practice recommendations to policymakers around the globe. Yet the governments of developing countries in sub-Saharan Africa, Asia, Latin America, and the Caribbean continue to implement widely varying policies. Boundaries of Contagion is the first systematic, comparative analysis of the politics of HIV/AIDS. The book explores the political challenges of responding to a stigmatized condition, and identifies ethnic boundaries--the formal and informal institutions that divide societies--as a central influence on politics and policymaking.

Evan Lieberman examines the ways in which risk and social competition get mapped onto well-institutionalized patterns of ethnic politics. Where strong ethnic boundaries fragment societies into groups, the politics of AIDS are more likely to involve blame and shame-avoidance tactics against segments of the population. In turn, government leaders of such countries respond far less aggressively to the epidemic. Lieberman's case studies of Brazil, South Africa, and India--three developing countries that face significant AIDS epidemics--are complemented by statistical analyses of the policy responses of Indian states and over seventy developing countries. The studies conclude that varied patterns of ethnic competition shape how governments respond to this devastating problem. The author considers the implications for governments and donors, and the increasing tendency to identify social problems in ethnic terms.

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Brain Gain

Rethinking U.S. Immigration Policy

Darrell M. West

Many of America's greatest artists, scientists, investors, educators, and entrepreneurs have come from abroad. Rather than suffering from the "brain drain" of talented and educated individuals emigrating, the United States has benefited greatly over the years from the "brain gain" of immigration. These gifted immigrants have engineered advances in energy, information technology, international commerce, sports, arts, and culture. To stay competitive, the United States must institute more of an open-door policy to attract unique talents from other nations. Yet Americans resist such a policy despite their own immigrant histories and the substantial social, economic, intellectual, and cultural benefits of welcoming newcomers. Why?

In Brain Gain, Darrell West asserts that perception or "vision" is one reason reform in immigration policy is so politically difficult. Public discourse tends to emphasize the perceived negatives. Fear too often trumps optimism and reason. And democracy is messy, with policy principles that are often difficult to reconcile.

The seeming irrationality of U.S. immigration policy arises from a variety of thorny and interrelated factors: particularistic politics and fragmented institutions, public concern regarding education and employment, anger over taxes and social services, and ambivalence about national identity, culture, and language. Add to that stew a myopic (or worse) press, persistent fears of terrorism, and the difficulties of implementing border enforcement and legal justice.

West prescribes a series of reforms that will put America on a better course and enhance its long-term social and economic prosperity. Reconceptualizing immigration as a way to enhance innovation and competitiveness, the author notes, will help us find the next Sergey Brin, the next Andrew Grove, or even the next Albert Einstein.

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