Courtney Brown, Ph.D.
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Published in 1995 by The University of Michigan Press (Ann Arbor).
From the book jacket:

Serpents in the Sand . . . For decades, social scientists have worked with models that have sought to quantify and explain human behavior. The common foundation for nearly all of these mathematical applications is the assumption of linear progression, equilibrium, and stability. Serpents in the Sand: Essays on the Nonlinear Nature of Politics and Human Destiny not only argues that in fact political life is fundamentally nonlinear, but investigates, estimates, and thoroughly analyzes specific instances of extreme nonlinearity in politics. By doing so, Courtney Brown offers a guide to the reader on how to apply nonlinearity, including chaos theory, to real-world situations.

The author develops his argument by in-depth analyses of four examples covering a broad spectrum of political life. He considers, first, the relationship between individual rationality and the influence of a voter's political milieu. He then turns to look at the dynamics behind the Johnson vs. Goldwater landslide presidential election of 1964. The fall of the Weimar Republic and the rise of Nazi Germany provide a third case study, followed, fourth, by an analysis of the relationship between democratic electoral politics and the ecological environment. Throughout, Courtney Brown employs the evidence of these cases to demonstrate the essentially nonlinear nature of human political behavior. Highly original in its findings, Serpents in the Sand resembles no other work on politics. It is the first study of nonlinearity in political behavior to base its argument on specific examples rather than on analogies to physical and ecological systems. Substantively, the book draws provocative conclusions from the test cases, examining, for instance, the potential for disaster in the oscillatory relationship between the way presidents are elected in the United States and the management of the country's environment. In the end, Serpents in the Sand extends its argument to the philosophy of human existence, showing that human behavior is as nonlinear as all other processes in the universe.

Table of Contents

  1. Nonlinear Politics
  2. The Structure of Nonlinear Time
  3. Individual Voter Rationality and the Influence of Context: The Relationship Is a Catastrophe
  4. The Anatomy of a Landslide: Johnson and Goldwater in 1964
  5. Nonlinear Catastrophe Superstructures and the Fall of the Weimar Republic
  6. Politics and the Enviroment: Nonlinear Instabilities Dominate
  7. Toward a General Theory of Nonlinear Political Evolution


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Read Reviews of This Book:

American Political Science Review
Americal Journal of Sociology