Democracy and Knowledge: Innovation and Learning in Classical Athens

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9780691146249: Democracy and Knowledge: Innovation and Learning in Classical Athens

When does democracy work well, and why? Is democracy the best form of government? These questions are of supreme importance today as the United States seeks to promote its democratic values abroad. Democracy and Knowledge is the first book to look to ancient Athens to explain how and why directly democratic government by the people produces wealth, power, and security.


Combining a history of Athens with contemporary theories of collective action and rational choice developed by economists and political scientists, Josiah Ober examines Athenian democracy's unique contribution to the ancient Greek city-state's remarkable success, and demonstrates the valuable lessons Athenian political practices hold for us today. He argues that the key to Athens's success lay in how the city-state managed and organized the aggregation and distribution of knowledge among its citizens. Ober explores the institutional contexts of democratic knowledge management, including the use of social networks for collecting information, publicity for building common knowledge, and open access for lowering transaction costs. He explains why a government's attempt to dam the flow of information makes democracy stumble. Democratic participation and deliberation consume state resources and social energy. Yet as Ober shows, the benefits of a well-designed democracy far outweigh its costs.


Understanding how democracy can lead to prosperity and security is among the most pressing political challenges of modern times. Democracy and Knowledge reveals how ancient Greek politics can help us transcend the democratic dilemmas that confront the world today.

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"In this pathbreaking work, Josiah Ober draws on the full array of modern social science to explain the amazing success of Athenian democracy. He argues persuasively that the Athenians were able to overcome problems of collective action through the efficient aggregation and use of knowledge, as when Cleisthenes created new tribes that brought together citizens from different parts of Attica. The striking vignettes and episodes from Athenian history conjoined with sophisticated theoretical analyses make for utterly compelling reading. It will enrich social science no less than the writing of ancient history. Since the work of Paul Veyne, there has been nothing like it."--Jon Elster, Collège de France

"A fresh, intellectually daring proposal by the George Grote of our times: democracy is not just an ethically desirable political form, but potentially unsurpassed as a source of innovation, public learning, and the application of publicly useful knowledge."--John Keane, professor of politics at the University of Westminster and the Wissenschaftszentrum Berlin

"Josiah Ober introduces Athens to students of institutional design and institutional design to students of Athens in an exercise of trailblazing scholarship and analysis. The book will become a standard reference in both areas of investigation."--Philip Pettit, Princeton University

"Democracy and Knowledge looks at Athenian democracy from a quite new angle by taking on a question that has not previously made the transition from political and social science to ancient world studies. No one has even asked how in practice the Athenians aggregated their knowledge to make sensible decisions. There is no treatment of classical Athens or, to my knowledge, of the working of any democracy, comparable to this."--Robin Osborne, University of Cambridge

"This is a terrific book. Ober applies modern social science to explain and make sense of Athenian institutions, and offers strong and compelling discussions of many issues. The two central lines of argument--the role and structure of knowledge and the incentive or game structures of the interactions of citizens in politics--are at the core of understanding these issues, and yet they are seldom brought together in this way."--Russell Hardin, New York University

About the Author:

Josiah Ober is the Constantine Mitsotakis Professor of Political Science and Classics at Stanford University. His books include Athenian Legacies, Political Dissent in Democratic Athens, and Mass and Elite in Democratic Athens (all Princeton).

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ISBN 10: 0691146241 ISBN 13: 9780691146249
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Buchbeschreibung Princeton University Press, United States, 2010. Paperback. Buchzustand: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. When does democracy work well, and why? Is democracy the best form of government? These questions are of supreme importance today as the United States seeks to promote its democratic values abroad. Democracy and Knowledge is the first book to look to ancient Athens to explain how and why directly democratic government by the people produces wealth, power, and security. Combining a history of Athens with contemporary theories of collective action and rational choice developed by economists and political scientists, Josiah Ober examines Athenian democracy s unique contribution to the ancient Greek city-state s remarkable success, and demonstrates the valuable lessons Athenian political practices hold for us today. He argues that the key to Athens s success lay in how the city-state managed and organized the aggregation and distribution of knowledge among its citizens. Ober explores the institutional contexts of democratic knowledge management, including the use of social networks for collecting information, publicity for building common knowledge, and open access for lowering transaction costs. He explains why a government s attempt to dam the flow of information makes democracy stumble. Democratic participation and deliberation consume state resources and social energy. Yet as Ober shows, the benefits of a well-designed democracy far outweigh its costs. Understanding how democracy can lead to prosperity and security is among the most pressing political challenges of modern times. Democracy and Knowledge reveals how ancient Greek politics can help us transcend the democratic dilemmas that confront the world today. Buchnummer des Verkäufers AAU9780691146249

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Buchbeschreibung Princeton University Press, United States, 2010. Paperback. Buchzustand: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. When does democracy work well, and why? Is democracy the best form of government? These questions are of supreme importance today as the United States seeks to promote its democratic values abroad. Democracy and Knowledge is the first book to look to ancient Athens to explain how and why directly democratic government by the people produces wealth, power, and security. Combining a history of Athens with contemporary theories of collective action and rational choice developed by economists and political scientists, Josiah Ober examines Athenian democracy s unique contribution to the ancient Greek city-state s remarkable success, and demonstrates the valuable lessons Athenian political practices hold for us today. He argues that the key to Athens s success lay in how the city-state managed and organized the aggregation and distribution of knowledge among its citizens. Ober explores the institutional contexts of democratic knowledge management, including the use of social networks for collecting information, publicity for building common knowledge, and open access for lowering transaction costs. He explains why a government s attempt to dam the flow of information makes democracy stumble. Democratic participation and deliberation consume state resources and social energy. Yet as Ober shows, the benefits of a well-designed democracy far outweigh its costs. Understanding how democracy can lead to prosperity and security is among the most pressing political challenges of modern times. Democracy and Knowledge reveals how ancient Greek politics can help us transcend the democratic dilemmas that confront the world today. Buchnummer des Verkäufers AAU9780691146249

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Buchbeschreibung Princeton University Press, 2010. Buchzustand: New. 2010. Paperback. When does democracy work well, and why? Is democracy the best form of government? These questions are of supreme importance as the United States seeks to promote its democratic values abroad. This book looks at ancient Athens to explain how and why directly democratic government by the people produces wealth, power, and security. Num Pages: 368 pages, 15 halftones. 9 line illus. 19 tables. BIC Classification: JPA. Category: (P) Professional & Vocational; (U) Tertiary Education (US: College). Dimension: 236 x 158 x 26. Weight in Grams: 526. . . . . . . Buchnummer des Verkäufers V9780691146249

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Buchbeschreibung Princeton University Press. Paperback. Buchzustand: new. BRAND NEW, Democracy and Knowledge: Innovation and Learning in Classical Athens, Josiah Ober, When does democracy work well, and why? Is democracy the best form of government? These questions are of supreme importance today as the United States seeks to promote its democratic values abroad. Democracy and Knowledge is the first book to look to ancient Athens to explain how and why directly democratic government by the people produces wealth, power, and security. Combining a history of Athens with contemporary theories of collective action and rational choice developed by economists and political scientists, Josiah Ober examines Athenian democracy's unique contribution to the ancient Greek city-state's remarkable success, and demonstrates the valuable lessons Athenian political practices hold for us today. He argues that the key to Athens's success lay in how the city-state managed and organized the aggregation and distribution of knowledge among its citizens. Ober explores the institutional contexts of democratic knowledge management, including the use of social networks for collecting information, publicity for building common knowledge, and open access for lowering transaction costs. He explains why a government's attempt to dam the flow of information makes democracy stumble. Democratic participation and deliberation consume state resources and social energy. Yet as Ober shows, the benefits of a well-designed democracy far outweigh its costs. Understanding how democracy can lead to prosperity and security is among the most pressing political challenges of modern times. Democracy and Knowledge reveals how ancient Greek politics can help us transcend the democratic dilemmas that confront the world today. Buchnummer des Verkäufers B9780691146249

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Buchbeschreibung Princeton University Press. Buchzustand: New. 2010. Paperback. When does democracy work well, and why? Is democracy the best form of government? These questions are of supreme importance as the United States seeks to promote its democratic values abroad. This book looks at ancient Athens to explain how and why directly democratic government by the people produces wealth, power, and security. Num Pages: 368 pages, 15 halftones. 9 line illus. 19 tables. BIC Classification: JPA. Category: (P) Professional & Vocational; (U) Tertiary Education (US: College). Dimension: 236 x 158 x 26. Weight in Grams: 526. . . . . . Books ship from the US and Ireland. Buchnummer des Verkäufers V9780691146249

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