Invisible Hands, Russian Experience, and Social Science: Approaches to Understanding Systemic Failure. By Stefan Hedlund. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2011. 324p. $95.00, cloth, $35.99 paper.
In recent decades the study of social phenomena has been characterized by the increasing specialization of academic subdisciplines. At the same time, social science has had great difficulty in accounting for instances of systemic failure that challenge the artificial typologies often promoted by specialized scholarship. Increasing theoretical sophistication thus arguably has come at the expense of grasping the particular and unique nature of historical events. In Invisible Hands, Russian Experience, and Social Science, Stefan Hedlund examines the postcommunist Russian encounter with capitalism and the global financial crisis as examples of unprecedented events that challenged social scientists' assumptions about the causes of human behavior and the functioning of social and political institutions. In this symposium a group of political scientists have been asked to critically assess the book's account and to comment more broadly on what systemic failure can tell us about social science theorizing.—Jeffrey C. Isaac, Editor