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The Oxford Handbook of Political Economy (Oxford Handbooks of Political Science) [Hardcover]

Barry R. Weingast , Donald A. Wittman
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

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Book Description

October 19, 2006 0199272220 978-0199272228 First Edition, First Printing
Over its long lifetime, "political economy" has had many different meanings: the science of managing the resources of a nation so as to provide wealth to its inhabitants for Adam Smith; the study of how the ownership of the means of production influenced historical processes for Marx; the study of the inter-relationship between economics and politics for some twentieth-century commentators; and for others, a methodology emphasizing individual rationality (the economic or "public choice" approach) or institutional adaptation (the sociological version). This Handbook views political economy as a grand (if imperfect) synthesis of these various strands, treating political economy as the methodology of economics applied to the analysis of political behavior and institutions.

This Handbook surveys the field of political economy, with fifty-eight chapters ranging from micro to macro, national to international, institutional to behavioral, methodological to substantive. Chapters on social choice, constitutional theory, and public economics are set alongside ones on voters, parties and pressure groups, macroeconomics and politics, capitalism and democracy, and international political economy and international conflict.

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Editorial Reviews


"This is an impressive book in every dimension."--Randall G. Holcombe, Public Choice

"The overall quality of writing and analysis is high, and the bibliographies are very valuable...Highly recommended."--Choice

"This volume comprises a thorough and definitive overview, written by the top people in the field, of the research frontier of political economy. It will be required reading for students, and essential reference material for scholars active in the field, for many years to come."--Avinash K. Dixit, John J. F. Sherrerd '52 University Professor of Economics, Princeton University

"The thoughtful essays in the Handbooks are far more than literature reviews. Scholars and students will find them to be a valusable resource for many years to come."--Morris P. Fiorina, Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution and Wendt Family Professor of Political Science, Stanford Univeristy

About the Author

Barry R. Weingast is at Ward C. Krebs Family Professor of Political Science, Stanford University Stanford University. Donald Wittman is at Professor of Economics, University of California, Santa Cruz.

Product Details

  • Series: Oxford Handbooks of Political Science
  • Hardcover: 1112 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; First Edition, First Printing edition (October 19, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0199272220
  • ISBN-13: 978-0199272228
  • Product Dimensions: 2.4 x 7 x 9.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,109,882 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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23 of 23 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent, but of limited scope March 12, 2008
By Yannis
This handbook is almost excellent - it is certainly one of the two best handbooks in OUP's series, alongside Boix and Stokes' one on Comparative Politics. It is by far better than the other titles in the series, such as the one on political institutions, that on public management, or that on public policy. The reason for this success is threefold (i.e. the book scores very well on three criteria):

(1) It covers almost anything you would wish to read about in this sub-discipline, from public choice to principal-agent, and from monetary or trade politics to constitutional issues;
(2) It really reaches up to the state-of-the-art in every single chapter (except perhaps the strange chapter on Arrow, which nevertheless makes for an interesting read); and
(3) Most of it is written clearly, with individual chapters presenting the historical evolution of knowledge in their areas, and hence enhancing one's understanding of the significance (or lack of) of newer scholarship.

Having said that, OUP was not going to publish another volume on different ways of doing political economy. For this reason, this volume should have dedicated a little space to non-mathematical traditions, such as the one usually exhibited by contributors in the Review of International Political Economy. (One may or may not agree with these informal and indeed quite "ideologically-loaded" traditions. Nevertheless, they are part of our world, and as such, they should be duly acknowledged, described, and if applicable criticised.)

The second reason why I don't give this volume a 5-star is that there is nothing to set the non-specialised reader ready for some generally technical chapters.
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