Friday, May 29, 2009
While it is a decent list, there are a couple of readings that are missing--readings that I think make an important contribution to the research on interest group theory, American politics, and, from Foreign Affairs standpoint, the making of American foreign policy:
- Theodore Lowi's The End of Liberalism: The Second Republic of the United States. Norton, 1979. This book is a muddled mess to read, but its central theme is spot on--the Great Society program, and its aftermath, opened up the political process to interest groups in a way never before seen in American history, and in so doing ended the democratic experiement started by the Founding Fathers and continued through the Great Depression, New Deal, and WWII.
- Dennis Chong's Collective Action and the Civil Rights Movement. Chicago, 1991. One of my favorite books on interest group theory. It seeks to explain collective action when concepts such as fairness and justice are at play and when there is very little personal benefit to be gained. Collective action theorists in the vein of Olson and Axelrod would tell you that where a person was likely to receive little personal gain in a voluntary commitment, collective action would be difficult to obtain, yet in the case of the Civil Rights Movement, it happened. So there must be something beyond personal gain that motivates individuals into collective behavior. It is one of the few rational choice tomes that I could stomach.
- Jonathan Rauch's Demosclerosis. This originally appeared as an article that was turned into a book. Rauch builds upon Lowi's work on the danger that interest group behavior presents to a democratic system such as ours, where interest groups latch on to the body politic like ticks, but unlike ticks, do not fall off once satiated. Eventually, just like plaque in the arteries will eventually cause the heart to seize and the body to collapse, interest groups clog up the political system, rendering it unable to do innovative programming and eventually death.
- Daniel Deudney and G. John Ikenberry's The Nature and Sources of Liberal International Order (Review of International Studies, 1999). This article explains why the United States is a different type of hegemon in the international system--different from those of the past (Rome, Great Britain). The key is our open political system, that allows foreign governments to employ lobbyists to effect US foreign policy, thus effecting the behavior of the United States in the international system. The term the authors employ to explain the US is penetrated hegemony, and because of this you should not see the sort of conflict that was present in earlier international systems dominated by a single hegemon.
This is a selection of my favorites, and it certainly does not include the comprehensive list. These are important works that I felt were left out of the collection listed byLieberman. Feel free to add on to his and my list!