Politics in Plural Societies: A Theory of Democratic Instability explains political competition, struggle for power in multiethnic societies

Thursday, March 6, 2008
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Politics in Plural Societies: A Theory of Democratic Instability, a landmark study in the field of comparative politics, presents a model of political competition in multiethnic societies and explains why plural societies, and the struggle for power within them, often erupt into interethnic hostility.

First published in 1972, this landmark work is being returned to print as the newest addition to the Longman Classics in Political Science series.

Alvin Rabushka, the David and Joan Traitel Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution, and Kenneth A. Shepsle demonstrate—in a new epilogue—the pertinence of their arguments and the evidence offered when the book was originally published.

In the epilogue, they apply their thesis about why plural societies often erupt into interethnic hostility to the politics of countries that are of great interest today: Iraq, Lebanon, Sudan, and more.


Features of the Book
The book not only develops and tests a formal model of political cooperation and conflict in multiethnic societies, but offers comparisons among 18 countries on the basis of theoretically developed categories, rather than by region of the world.

  • Rabushka and Shepsle bring formal theory together with sound empirical analysis, directly comparing the predictions of their theory with the evidence of real-world politics.
  • They also examine the problems of orderly government in multiethnic societies and the difficulties of implementing solutions.

Alvin Rabushka is the David and Joan Traitel Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University. His principal work focuses on tax policy. He is coauthor, with Robert E. Hall, of The Flat Tax, 2nd edition (Hoover Press, 1995). His work on the flat tax has provided the inspiration for the introduction of numerous flat-tax bills in the U.S. Congress and the adoption of the flat tax in more than a dozen countries, largely in Central and Eastern Europe, since 1994.

Kenneth A. Shepsle is the George D. Markham Professor of Government and a founding member of the Institute for Quantitative Social Science at Harvard. Professor Shepsle has written numerous articles on formal political theory, congressional and parliamentary politics, public policy, and political economy. He was a national fellow at the Hoover Institution, a fellow of the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences, and a Guggenheim Fellow. He was editor of Public Choice, and served as vice president of the American Political Science Association. In 1990 he was elected to the National Academy of Sciences and to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He was chair of the Department of Government at Harvard, 1995–98. His current research focuses on formal models of political institutions and intergenerational politics.

Politics in Plural Societies: A Theory of Democratic Instability
(Longman Classics Edition)
Alvin Rabushka, Stanford University
Kenneth Shepsle, Harvard University
ISBN-10: 0205617611
ISBN-13: 9780205617616
Publisher: Longman $33.33 paper