Notes on a Theory…

Thoughts on politics, law, & social science

Top Five Posts that No One Read: 2012

with 3 comments

I may post the top posts from the past year based on views, but I first thought I might do a list of posts that didn’t get much traffic that I wish had. Here they are, in no particular order. [This post edited slightly]

1) Economic Rights Must Be Contested – This post warns us against drawing overly broad lessons when attacking the idea of natural rights. Just because there is no neutral way to settle the meaning of rights doesn’t mean they are meaningless – only that the answers will be political.  For me, contestation is at the heart of politics.

2) Discourse on Terrorism and Law as Objects of Analysis (Great Footnotes in History) – In social science, “neutrality” generally depends on taking the objects of analysis for granted, meaning accepting conventional ways of framing questions.  This makes for bad analysis, and it also makes it difficult for those of us who are doing something different. I draw a little inspiration from terrorism studies (and an insightful footnote).

3) Blaming the People: Democratic Efficiency as a Cop Out – Democratic efficiency is an analogy I’ve drawn between (bad) economics and politics. Here I talk about how it is used to blame the people for the problems of the system and as a result, undermine the case for reform. Understanding how the claim of democracy is used to stop challenges to the status quo seems a worthwhile endeavor.

4) Why is Framing So Misunderstood?: The Distorting Lens of Democracy – One theme here has been that democracy is not a useful analytic lens for understanding politics, but rather a legitimation rhetoric.  In this installment, I argue that a democratic lens confuses us in our debates over what framing is and why it matters.  Oddly, those who focus on framing often fail to notice the deep structure of democracy as it relates to framing, which impedes successful framing about framing.

5) A Condition is Not a Problem: The Impact of Sandy – Drawing on some classic political science, I talked about why Hurricane Sandy was unlikely to have much of an impact, and what it would take to change that.  Events don’t cause anything in politics, rather they create opportunities for contestation. But the belief that events are causal distracts us from needed contestation.

Written by David Kaib

December 27, 2012 at 7:25 pm

3 Responses

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  1. […] Also, don’t miss Top Five Posts that No One Read: 2012. […]

  2. I thought these were all very fine posts. I don’t see why they would be less read. They should be more read, in my view.


    December 29, 2012 at 2:38 pm

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