Saturday, May 19, 2012

Diamond on Acemoglu and Robinson's "Why Nation's Fail"

In the New York Review of Books (here), Jared Diamond provides an incisive and insightful critique of Daron Acemoglu and James Robinson's Why Nation's Fail: The Origins of Power, Prosperity, and Poverty (Crown 2012). While acknowledging their claims about the central importance of institutions for explaining the success and failure of societies, Diamond argues that they do not pay sufficient attention to ecological factors, including geography and the resource base.

I have not yet read the Acemoglu and Robinson book (which Diamond, after all, considers required reading). So, I cannot assess the extent to which I agree with Diamond's critique of it. However, his critique is fully consistent with work ongoing at the Vincent and Elinor Ostrom Workshop in Political Theory and Policy Analysis at Indiana University to develop a multi-factor and multi-level framework for understanding and analyzing combined (and co-productive) social-ecological systems. See, for example, Lin Ostrom's 2009 article in Science on "A General Framework for Analyzing Sustainability of Social-Ecological Systems" (here).

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