This groundbreaking book represents the most systematic examination to date of the often-invoked but rarely examined declaration that "history matters." Most contemporary social scientists unconsciously take a "snapshot" view of the social world. Yet the meaning of social events or processes is frequently distorted when they are ripped from their temporal context. Paul Pierson argues that placing politics in time--constructing "moving pictures" rather than snapshots--can vastly enrich our understanding of complex social dynamics, and greatly improve the theories and methods that we use to explain them.
Politics in Time opens a new window on the temporal aspects of the social world. It explores a range of important features and implications of evolving social processes: the variety of processes that unfold over significant periods of time, the circumstances under which such different processes are likely to occur, and above all, the significance of these temporal dimensions of social life for our understanding of important political and social outcomes. Ranging widely across the social sciences, Pierson's analysis reveals the high price social science pays when it becomes ahistorical. And it provides a wealth of ideas for restoring our sense of historical process. By placing politics back in time, Pierson's book is destined to have a resounding and enduring impact on the work of scholars and students in fields from political science, history, and sociology to economics and policy analysis.
"Every once in a long while a book comes along that shifts the debate entirely by altering the vantage point from which we approach the study of politics. This is such a book. Maneuvering masterfully across diverse literatures and drawing on an extraordinary range of empirical cases, Pierson identifies key mechanisms that give meaning and precision to the abstract claim that history matters. Through analysis and illustration, he provides new insights into exactly how, when, and why this is true. This is an enormously important and agenda-setting work."--Kathleen Thelen, Northwestern University
"Paul Pierson is a leading voice in new social science debates on temporality and path dependence. He has now taken a major step forward by unifying his arguments in an integrated statement. This book will be indispensable for scholars across several disciplines who are concerned with comparative-historical analysis, innovative perspectives on causal assessment, and integrative approaches that bridge qualitative and quantitative methods."---David Collier, University of California, Berkeley
"Politics in Time is a splendid book that will shape debates in political science and beyond for many years to come. It represents the most systematic and thorough statement on theorizing temporal processes in the social sciences ever written. Pierson sets new agendas by challenging researchers to take time seriously, especially those who work in analytic traditions that traditionally have been relatively atemporal."--James Mahoney, Brown University, author of The Legacies of Liberalism
Table of Contents:
List of Figures and Tables ix
Introduction: Placing Politics in Time 1
Positive Feedback and Path Dependence 17
Timing and Sequence 54
Long-Term Processes 79
The Limits of Institutional Design 103
Institutional Development 133
Temporal Context in Social Science Inquiry 167
This book has been translated into:
Another Princeton book authored or coauthored by Paul Pierson: