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Political Economy and Global Affairs

Political Economy and Global Affairs

October 2005 | 453 pages | CQ Press

Policy decisions at the domestic level—whether relating to currency rates, tariffs on certain goods, or labor protection—factor heavily on such issues as trade, monetary policy, foreign debt, and development. How can we best understand the way those decisions and events at the national level affect outcomes and policy at the international level? A focus on one over the other paints an incomplete picture for students. Sobel contends that we must focus on the individual preferences, strategies, and choices of political-economic policymakers in order to fully understand the larger, macro view of international political economy. With the aim of linking the two, Sobel helps students develop analytic skills for describing both what happens in the international political economy, and why policymakers make the choices they do.

In this groundbreaking new text, Sobel presents—in a lucid and intuitive way—the core assumptions of scarcity, political survival, and rationality which form the basis of the book’s “micro-level” approach. Individuals—not nations—make choices. With constraints as to what resources and opportunities are available, policymakers choose among alternatives that are most in sync with their self-interest. If students understand market failure and social traps, as well as how collective action problems affect interest group and institutional performance, they will be able to answer questions about a wide spectrum of events that start at the domestic level and spill over into global economic markets.

To add context, Sobel presents a concise but detailed historical overview of globalization that demonstrates the shortcomings of common macro-level models in the field, from realism to liberalism to hegemonic stability theory. Your students will be equipped with a set of analytic tools that better explain individual behavior and social outcomes in areas such as trade liberalization, institutional bargains, factor endowments, currency exchange systems and convertibility, and development.

Special features:

  • Exercises at the end of each chapter encourage students to apply the concepts they’ve just read about.
  • A suggested reading list for each chapter provides rich sources for further study.
  • Valuable figures and tables as well as highlighted key terms and a glossary help students grasp important concepts and aid in study.
  • Photos enliven the book’s presentation and provide visual examples to help students understand core concepts.

Introduction: Concepts, History, and Social Science
Assumptions, Rationality, and Context
Structure of the International System
Power and Hierarchy in the International System
Economic Liberalism and Exchange in the Global Arena
Baseline Framework: Political Markets and Exchange
Around the World in Eighty Days: The Advent of Globalization
The World Between the Wars: A Breakdown in Globalization
The Bretton Woods System: The Rebuilding of Globalization
The World Post–Bretton Woods: Globalization Advances
Détente and the End of the Cold War: Globalization During Transition
Political and Economic Market Failure and Social Traps
Dilemma of Collective Goods, Solutions, and Hegemonic Stability
Interest Groups and International Economic Foundations of Political Cleavage

I decided not to adopt this book for my methods course as I find the other Sobel book "International Political Economy in Context" a much better choice. Although similar in content, the newer book's stronger focus on micro-level explanations deemed to be a better choice for my course. This two-level logic emphasized in the 2013 book aligns better with my own research agends and the ideas I would like to see advanced in the research community. Hence, the newer book strikes me as a better choice for my purposes.

Mr Patrick Bayer
Department of Political Science, University of Mannheim
March 11, 2013

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