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Cover The Politics of the Earth

5. Leave It to the People  

Democratic Pragmatism

This chapter treats democracy as a way of approaching problems through involving a variety of interests and actors along with citizens in interactive problem solving within the basic institutional structure of liberal capitalist democracy. It is manifested in for example public consultation, alternative dispute resolution, policy dialogue, lay citizen deliberation, and public inquiries. The turn from government to more decentralized and networked governance can be seen as a kind of democratic pragmatism, though networks do not always enhance democracy. This problem solving must be a flexible process that involves many voices and cooperation across a plurality of perspectives. The degree of participation with which pragmatists are happy often corresponds to existing liberal democracies and enables congruence between the demands of rationality in social problem solving and democratic values, though efforts exist to deepen both the democratic and problem-solving capacity of participation.


Cover Global Political Economy

3. How to think about Global Political Economy  

Benjamin J. Cohen

This chapter examines the question of how we should think about Global Political Economy (GPE), and offers a multitude of theoretical approaches and perspectives. Perspectives can be distinguished from one another along five key dimensions: ontology, agenda, purpose, boundaries, and epistemology. At the most general level, the field is divided between two broad approaches, described as either orthodox or heterodox theoretical perspectives. Orthodox perspectives share a preference for a state-centric ontology, positivism, closed disciplinary boundaries, and rigorous methodology. They may be subdivided into three main variations: liberalism, realism, and constructivism. Heterodox perspectives are less state-centric, agendas are broader and more normative, boundaries are more open, and methodology is less formal. They include a variety of system-level theories, critical theory, and approaches that seek to extend the boundaries of the field in one direction or another. Fundamentally, our thinking about GPE should be ruled by two paramount principles: pragmatism and eclecticism.