Sven Steinmo’s fascinating new book on the evolution of modern stateschallenges us to view national political economies, tax structures, andsocial welfare policies not as distinct entities but as unique and intertwined“systems” that evolve over time. Two issues stand out in thisexceptional book. First is the application of evolutionary theory, whichposits “social systems” to be “fundamentally different than inanimatematter. Similar to living organisms, they change, adapt and evolve” (10).From this perspective, complex multivariable causation and interactiveeffects are common because the human world is made of complex adaptivesystems and interacting emergent phenomena. Building a prospectivebridge between historical institutionalism and interdisciplinary evolutionarytheory, Steinmo stresses that “when and where something occurscan fundamentally shape what occurs” (13), while explicitly recognizingthat “not all evolutionary adaptations are efficient and not all evolutionis progressive... [there is] enormous frequency of extinction and theoccurrence of regression” (146).
International Relations | Political Science
Wiley: 24 months
JOSHI, Devin K..(2012). Review of the evolution of modern states: Sweden, Japan, and the United States by Sven Steinmo. Governance, 25(2), 351-353.
Available at: http://ink.library.smu.edu.sg/soss_research/2251
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