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How Pessimists, Partisans, and Plutocrats are Transforming the Marketplace of Ideas
Author: Daniel Drezner
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Category: Political Science
The public intellectual, as a person and ideal, has a long and storied history. Writing in venues like the New Republic and Commentary, such intellectuals were always expected to opine on a broad array of topics, from foreign policy to literature to economics. Yet in recent years a new kind of thinker has supplanted that archetype: the thought leader. Equipped with one big idea, thought leaders focus their energies on TED talks rather than highbrow periodicals. How did this shift happen? In The Ideas Industry, Daniel W. Drezner points to the roles of political polarization, heightened inequality, and eroding trust in authority as ushering in the change. In contrast to public intellectuals, thought leaders gain fame as single-idea merchants. Their ideas are often laudable and highly ambitious: ending global poverty by 2025, for example. But instead of a class composed of university professors and freelance intellectuals debating in highbrow magazines, thought leaders often work through institutions that are closed to the public. They are more immune to criticism--and in this century, the criticism of public intellectuals also counts for less. Three equally important factors that have reshaped the world of ideas have been waning trust in expertise, increasing political polarization and plutocracy. The erosion of trust has lowered the barriers to entry in the marketplace of ideas. Thought leaders don't need doctorates or fellowships to advance their arguments. Polarization is hardly a new phenomenon in the world of ideas, but in contrast to their predecessors, today's intellectuals are more likely to enjoy the support of ideologically friendly private funders and be housed in ideologically-driven think tanks. Increasing inequality as a key driver of this shift: more than ever before, contemporary plutocrats fund intellectuals and idea factories that generate arguments that align with their own. But, while there are certainly some downsides to the contemporary ideas industry, Drezner argues that it is very good at broadcasting ideas widely and reaching large audiences of people hungry for new thinking. Both fair-minded and trenchant, The Ideas Industry will reshape our understanding of contemporary public intellectual life in America and the West.
It is often assumed that think tanks carry enormous weight with lawmakers and other key stakeholders. In Do Think Tanks Matter? Donald Abelson argues that the question of how think tanks have evolved and under what conditions they can and do have an impact continues to be ignored. Think tank directors often credit their institutes with influencing major policy debates and government legislation, and many journalists and scholars believe the explosion of think tanks since the latter part of the twentieth century is indicative of their growing importance in the policy-making process. Abelson goes beyond assumptions, highlighting both the visibility and relevance of public policy institutes in what has become a contentious and polarized political arena in the United States, and in Canada, where, despite recent growth in numbers, they enjoy less prominence than their US counterparts. By focusing on how think tanks engage in issue articulation, policy formation, and implementation, Abelson argues that they have helped to shape the political dialogue and the policy preferences and choices of decision-makers, but in different ways and at different stages of the policy cycle. This expanded and revised third edition includes additional institutional profiles of key think tanks, an updated chapter on presidents and think tanks, a new chapter on the efforts of a group of public policy institutes to shape the discourse around the possible construction of the controversial Keystone XL pipeline, and dozens of new graphs and tables that track the public visibility and perceived policy relevance or impact of top-tier think tanks.
Creative Approaches to Coordinating the Common Good
Author: Margaret Stout
Publisher: Emerald Group Publishing
Category: Political Science
This volume explores the ways in which civil society and governments employ transformative tactics of direct engagement in coordinating efforts toward the common good. Increasingly, these collaborative endeavors seek to share power and break down role boundaries in the pursuit of abundant human flourishing, as opposed to cost-saving austerity.