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Architects of Political Change


  • 8 tables
  • Page extent: 354 pages
  • Size: 228 x 152 mm
  • Weight: 0.461 kg
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 (ISBN-13: 9780521539722 | ISBN-10: 0521539722)

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$39.99 (P)

This work offers a set of extended interpretations of Madison's argument in Federalist X of 1787, using ideas from social choice theory and from the work of Douglass North, Mancur Olson, and William Riker. Its focus is not on rational choice theory itself, but on the use of this theory as a heuristic device to better understand democratic institutions. The treatment adapts a formal model of elections to consider rapid constitutional change at periods when societies face quandaries. The topics explored in the book include Britain's reorganization of its fiscal system in the eighteenth century to prosecute its wars with France; the Colonies' decision to declare independence in 1776; Madison's argument about the 'probability of fit choice' during the Ratification period of 1787-88; the argument between Hamilton and Jefferson in 1798–1800 over the long run organization of the US economy and the election of Lincoln in 1860.


Preface; 1. Constitutional quandaries and rational choice; 2. Power, prosperity and social choice; 3. Franklin and the War of Independence: 1776-1783; 4. Madison, Jefferson and condorcet; 5. Lincoln and the Civil War; 6. Johnson and the critical realignment of 1964; 7. Keynes and the Atlantic constitution; 8. Preferences and beliefs; 9. Political change; 10. Notes; 11. Figures and tables.


"Intellectual creativity often takes the form of arbitrage, taking insights and ideas from one area of scholarship and transporting them to, and thereby illuminating, other scholarly provinces. Norman Schofield is the master of arbitrage. He links the theory of social choice (to which he has been a profound contributor in his own right) to the political philosophies of Condorcet and Madison, the accomplishments of political giants of American history (Franklin, Washington, and Jefferson in the 18th century, Lincoln in the 19th, and Johnson in the 20th), the transforming impact of the creators of the Atlantic alliance (Keynes in particular), and then back again to social choice theory (and the role of beliefs in voting and elections). Schofield's The Architects of Political Change is a masterpiece." Kenneth A. Shepsle, Harvard University

"This book has been eagerly awaited. In the iconoclastic tradition of Mancur Olson and William H. Riker, Norman Schofield offers a daring new interpretation of revolutionary change, and agents of change. You might think that everything than can be said about Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison and Abraham Lincoln has already been said. But this book casts them in a fresh light, together with other political revolutionaries such as Alexander Hamilton and John Maynard Keynes. To some degree, they are all children of the Marquis de Condorcet." Iain McLean, Oxford University

"Architects of Political Change gives historians and social scientists new insight into dramatic episodes of political change that have long seemed to defy the tools of political economy. Schofield's combination of social choice theory and historical case studies sheds light on everything from the English Civil War to twentieth-century American elections, and by the end of the book readers will have a much deeper understanding of why great political leaders can make such a difference when societies find themselves caught in major dilemmas." Philip T. Hoffman, California Institute of Technology

"Schofield tackles the problem so often set aside in positive analysis: the role played by particular leaders at particular moments in redirecting society by remolding its institutions or altering beliefs. Transformative moments in constitutional history are retold with a logical precision that makes the work both satisfying and provocative. This is an intelligent and absorbing book." Jenna Bednar, University of Michigan

"This is an excellent book. Many key historical figures and well-known events are seen here from a single perspective created by the author using the ideas of social choice theory and models of coalition formation in the policy space. I believe that many readers will want to apply the techniques developed in this book to other historical events." Fuad Aleskerov, State University “Higher School of Economics”, Moscow, Russia and Russian Academy of Sciences, Institute of Control Sciences

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