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Accelerating Democracy

Transforming Governance Through Technology

John O. McGinnis

Successful democracies throughout history--from ancient Athens to Britain on the cusp of the industrial age--have used the technology of their time to gather information for better governance. Our challenge is no different today, but it is more urgent because the accelerating pace of technological change creates potentially enormous dangers as well as benefits. Accelerating Democracy shows how to adapt democracy to new information technologies that can enhance political decision making and enable us to navigate the social rapids ahead.

John O. McGinnis demonstrates how these new technologies combine to address a problem as old as democracy itself--how to help citizens better evaluate the consequences of their political choices. As society became more complex in the nineteenth century, social planning became a top-down enterprise delegated to experts and bureaucrats. Today, technology increasingly permits information to bubble up from below and filter through more dispersed and competitive sources. McGinnis explains how to use fast-evolving information technologies to more effectively analyze past public policy, bring unprecedented intensity of scrutiny to current policy proposals, and more accurately predict the results of future policy. But he argues that we can do so only if government keeps pace with technological change. For instance, it must revive federalism to permit different jurisdictions to test different policies so that their results can be evaluated, and it must legalize information markets to permit people to bet on what the consequences of a policy will be even before that policy is implemented.

Accelerating Democracy reveals how we can achieve a democracy that is informed by expertise and social-scientific knowledge while shedding the arrogance and insularity of a technocracy.

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Acceptable Risks

Politics, Policy, and Risky Technologies

C. F. Larry Heimann

Complex and risky technologies--technologies such as new drugs for the treatment of AIDS that promise great benefits to our society but carry significant risks--pose many problems for political leaders and the policy makers responsible for overseeing them. Public agencies such as the Food and Drug Administration are told by political superiors not to inhibit important technological advances and may even be charged with promoting such development but must also make sure that no major accidents occur under their watch. Given the large costs associated with catastrophic accidents, the general public and elected officials often demand reliable or failure-free management of these technologies and have little tolerance for the error. Research in this area has lead to a schism between those who argue that it is possible to have reliable management techniques and safely manage complex technologies and others who contend that such control is difficult at best. In this book C. F. Larry Heimann advances an important solution to this problem by developing a general theory of organizational reliability and agency decision making. The book looks at both external and internal influences on reliability in agency decision making. It then tests theoretical propositions developed in a comparative case study of two agencies involved with the handling of risky technologies: NASA and the manned space flight program and the FDA's handling of pharmaceuticals--particularly new AIDS therapies. Drawing on concepts from engineering, organizational theory, political science, and decision theory, this book will be of interest to those interested in science and technology policy, bureaucratic management and reform, as well as those interested in health and space policy. C. F. Larry Heimann is Assistant Professor of Political Science, Michigan State University.

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ACCESS

Multiple Avenues for Deaf People

Doreen DeLuca, Irene W. Leigh, Kristen A. Lindgren, and Donna Jo Napoli, Editors

The companion to Signs and Voices: Deaf Culture, Identity, Language, and Arts, this volume presents an accomplished group of contributors who address the major technological, institutional, and societal advances in access for deaf people, as well as the remaining hurdles. Part One: Assistive Technologies begins with Maggie Casteel’s description of the latest innovative hearing assistive technology. Al Sonnenstrahl discusses his career as a deaf engineer who segued into advocating for equal access in telecommunications. Robert C. O’Reilly, Amanda J. Mangiardi, and H. Timothy Bunnell outline the process of cochlear implantation in children.

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Access to Energy

2000 and After

Melvin A. Conant

Conant explores how the transformation of oil from a commercial commodity to a strategic raw material have changed the face of world energy politics. In an increasingly interdependent world, Conant questions the right of any nation to withold vital supplies from other countries.

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Access to Microfinance and Financial Training for Innovative Urban Sustainability

Collective Investments at the Bottom of the Pyramid Segment in Urban Kenya

The Kenyan population is highly concentrated in urban centres, leading to increased social, economic and environmental strains, with a significant percentage of urban dwellers living in sprawling slums. Urban development is increasingly a major focus, especially in the fight against urban sustainability problems. There is little practical orientation in the academic literature for the growing gap between the rich and poor. Current literature is enormously concerned with resource use and environmental pressures, paying scant attention to the nexus between urban sustainability and empowerment of the urban poor. This book initiates debates on the segment of urban population often referred to as ìthe bottom of the pyramid (BOP)î, by analysing the microfinance innovation following evaluation of the impacts of access to microfinance and financial training and the implications to urban sustainability in Kenya. The main conclusion reached is that microfinance has an instrumental role to play in promoting sustainable urban development as it supports social welfare improvement and increases the livelihood of participants, business development and urban sustainability to a certain extent, thereby empowering the urban poor in contributing to poverty alleviation.

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Access with Attitude

An Advocate's Guide to Freedom of Information in Ohio

David Marburger

For those who find themselves in a battle for public records, Access with Attitude: An Advocate’s Guide to Freedom of Information in Ohio is an indispensable weapon. First Amendment lawyer David Marburger and investigative journalist Karl Idsvoog have written a simply worded, practical guide on how to take full advantage of Ohio’s so-called Sunshine Laws. Journalists, law firms, labor unions, private investigators, genealogists, realty companies, banks, insurers—anyone who regularly needs access to publicly held information—will find this comprehensive and contentious guide to be invaluable. Marburger, who drafted many of the provisions that Ohio adopted in its open records law, and coauthor
Idsvoog have been fighting for broader access to public records their entire careers. They offer field-tested tips on how to avoid “no,” and advise readers on legal strategies if their requests for information go unmet. Step by step, they show how to avoid delays and make the law work. Whether you’re a citizen, a nonprofit organization, journalist, or attorney going after public records, Access with Attitude is an essential resource.

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Accidental Activists

Victim Movements and Government Accountability in Japan and South Korea

by Celeste L. Arrington

Government wrongdoing or negligence harms people worldwide, but not all victims are equally effective at obtaining redress. In Accidental Activists, Celeste L. Arrington examines the interactive dynamics of the politics of redress to understand why not. Relatively powerless groups like redress claimants depend on support from political elites, active groups in society, the media, experts, lawyers, and the interested public to capture democratic policymakers' attention and sway their decisions. Focusing on when and how such third-party support matters, Arrington finds that elite allies may raise awareness about the victims’ cause or sponsor special legislation, but their activities also tend to deter the mobilization of fellow claimants and public sympathy. By contrast, claimants who gain elite allies only after the difficult and potentially risky process of mobilizing societal support tend to achieve more redress, which can include official inquiries, apologies, compensation, and structural reforms.

Arrington draws on her extensive fieldwork to illustrate these dynamics through comparisons of the parallel Japanese and South Korean movements of victims of harsh leprosy control policies, blood products tainted by hepatitis C, and North Korean abductions. Her book thereby highlights how citizens in Northeast Asia—a region grappling with how to address Japan’s past wrongs—are leveraging similar processes to hold their own governments accountable for more recent harms. Accidental Activists also reveals the growing power of litigation to promote policy change and greater accountability from decision makers.

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Accidental Immigrants and the Search for Home

Women, Cultural Identity, and Community

Carol E. Kelley

The effect of immigration on individual lives is not short lived. Those who stay in an adopted country permanently go through a continual process of adjustment and learning both about their new country-and about themselves. The four women profiled in Carol Kelley's poignant Accidental Immigrants and the Search for Home challenge immigrant stereotypes as their lives are transformed by moving to new countries for reasons of marriage, education, or career--not economics or politics.

The intimate stories of these "accidental" immigrants broaden conventional notions of home. From a Maori woman who moves to Norway to the daughter of an Iranian diplomat now living in France, Kelley weaves together these stories of the personal and emotional effects of immigration with interdisciplinary discussions drawn from anthropology and psychology. Ultimately, she reveals how the lifelong process of immigration affects each woman's sense of identity and belonging and contributes to better understanding today's globalized society.
 

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Accidental Occidental

Economics and Culture of Transition in Mitteleuropa, the Baltic and the Balkan Area

Lajos Bokros

Besides providing a historical record of the long road from the economic agenda of the 1917 Bolshevik revolution to the present transition from communism, this book can be considered a staunch defense of market capitalism and liberal democracy. Any celebration of the current transition in Eastern Europe necessarily affirms the superiority of a market system over a non-market one and of a democratic system over a non-democratic one. The author does not deny the failures, shortcomings or imperfections of market economy and democracy. Nor does he take the survival of market capitalism and liberal democracy for granted. On the contrary, by highlighting the valiant and painful process of transition and attempting to understand its economics and culture, he seeks to contribute to the theoretical (academic) and practical (political) defense of Western civilization.

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The Accidental Playground

Brooklyn Waterfront Narratives of the Undesigned and Unplanned

Daniel Campo

The Accidental Playground explores the remarkable landscape created by individuals and small groups who occupied and rebuilt an abandoned Brooklyn waterfront in Williamsburg. Without formal authority, capital, professional assistance, grand vision, consensus, or coordination with each other, these "vernacular" builders transformed a vacated waterfront railroad yard into a unique setting for recreation and creative endeavor. With the Manhattan skyline as its backdrop, the collapsing piers, eroded bulkhead, and remaining building foundations of the former Brooklyn Eastern District Terminal (BEDT) became the raw materials for various forms of waterside leisure and social spaces. Lacking predetermined rules governing its use, this waterfront evolved into the home turf for unusual and sometimes spectacular recreational, social, and creative subcultures. These included skateboarders who built a short-lived, but nationally renowned skatepark; a twenty-five-piece "public" marching band, fire performance troupes, and a variety of artists, photographers, and filmmakers. At the same time the site also served basic recreational needs of local residents. Collapsing piers became great places to catch fish, sunbathe, or take in the Manhattan skyline; the foundation of a demolished warehouse became an ideal place to practice music or skateboard; rubble-strewn earth became a compelling setting for film and fashion shoots; broken bulkhead became a beach; and thick patches of weeds dotted by ailanthus trees became a jungle. Drawing on a rich mix of documentary strategies including observation, ethnography, photography, and first-person narrative, Daniel Campo probes this accidental playground, allowing those who created it to share and examine their own narratives, perspectives, and conflicts. The multiple constituencies of this Williamsburg waterfront were surprisingly diverse, their stories colorful and provocative. When taken together, Campo argues, they suggest a radical reimagining of urban public space, the waterfront, and the practices by which they are created and maintained. The Accidental Playground, which treats readers to an utterly compelling story, is an exciting and distinctive contribution to the growing literature on the unplanned and the undesigned spaces and activities in cities today.

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