Publication Type

Book Review

Publication Date

3-2012

Abstract

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).

Discipline

International Relations | Political Science

Research Areas

Political Science

Publication

Governance

Volume

25

Issue

2

First Page

351

Last Page

353

ISSN

0952-1895

ISBN

9780521145466

Identifier

10.1111/j.1468-0491.2012.01577.x

Publisher

Wiley: 24 months

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

Additional URL

http://doi.org./10.1111/j.1468-0491.2012.01577.x

Share

COinS