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This volume serves as an introduction to the new field of positive political economy and the various economic and political processes with which it is concerned. Grounded in the rational-actor methodology of microeconomics, positive political economy is devoted to the dual analysis of the role of economic behavior in political processes and of political behavior and constraints in economic exchange. The field has focused on three main subjects of study: models of collective action in industrialized democracies; the organization of markets and alternative mechanisms of exchange in the Third World; and the analysis of the role of transaction costs in the development and functioning of political and economic institutions. Developments in all of these areas are covered in the book. In the first part of the book, two chapters are devoted to explaining the evolution of the positive political economy approach; the first chapter focusing on microfoundations and the second on macrophenomena. In the second part of the book, three chapters demonstrate applications of the approach to the analysis of various forms of economic and political organizations. In the concluding section, four chapters discuss the research programs that have developed out of four different focuses of analysis: individual decision, exchange transactions, rent-seeking and indivisibilities.
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Kenneth A. Shepsle is the George D. Markham Professor of Government and founding member of the Institute for Quantitative Social Science at Harvard University. He is the author or coauthor of several books, including Politics in Plural Societies: A Theory of Democratic Instability; The Giant Jigsaw Puzzle: Democratic Committee Assignments in the Modern House; Models of Multiparty Electoral Competition; Making and Breaking Governments; and Analyzing Politics: Rationality, Behavior, and Institutions. He has been a member of the National Academy of Sciences and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences since 1990, and he is the recipient of fellowships by the Hoover Institution, John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, and Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences.Review:
"Unlike most edited volumes, this works as a collection. There are no clinkers, no weak contributors and no weak contributions....PPE is distinct from both political science and economics, not so much because those disciplines are unable to address the questions of interest, but because they have chosen not to." Michael C. Munger, The Southern Economic Journal
"The book is a must for libraries and will find its way into many a scholar's personal library." Journal of Economic Literature
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