Ambiguity, Coping, and Governance: Israeli Experiences in Politics, Religion, and Policymaking

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Greenwood Publishing Group, 1999 - Political Science - 203 pages

Sharkansky asserts that the use of ambiguity and other forms of coping are more suitable than problem solving in dealing with certain kinds of public problems. However, there are costs as well as benefits associated with these less than perfect ways of policy making. Sharkansky's approach conveys both optimism and pessimism. The bright side is that ambiguity works; the dark side is not so much its disadvantages as the realization that many commentators and practitioners of the craft seem unwilling to recognize its advantages and appear unwilling to promote its use for problems where it might be most useful.

Ambiguities surrounding the name of Jerusalem lead to insights and possibilities with respect to the city's future, as well as with respect to other disputes involved in the peace process between Israel and its neighbors. Ambiguities also appear in sophisticated modes of social science, and they raise the question, if research is unclear, can policy making be substantially different? As Sharkansky makes clear, there are negative as well as positive aspects to coping and ambiguity, and he suggests ways of dealing with the disadvantages. This frontal attack on widely advocated, conventional modes of thinking about public problems and policy making will be stimulating to students, researchers, and policy makers dealing with Israeli-Arab issues specifically and policy issues generally.

 

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Contents

Difficult and Interesting Problems
xi
Coping
3
Politics
17
Governance
18
Rational Decision Making
19
The Supremacy of Politics in Governance
20
Coping Is Humane as Well as Inevitabl
21
Why Israel?
25
On the Advantages of Coping and Ambiguity in Jerusalem
105
Jewish Ambiguities in Jerusalem
107
A Name
108
Assessing Israel
109
Allegations and Assessment
113
Testing the Claims
116
Is the Glass Half Empty or Half Full?
124
Ambiguities of the Peace Process
127

National Security
26
Immigration
27
A Cumbersome Giant
29
Limits to Israels Power
31
Moving Towards Normality
44
Ambiguity in Religion as Well as Politics
51
The Positive and Negative Sides of Ambiguity
58
Religion and Politics in the Jewish State
59
Religion and Politics in Utah
65
On the Nature of Religions
74
A Typology of Ambiguity in Policymaking and Administration
77
Which Jerusalem?
91
Synonyms for Jerusalem
94
Which Locale of Jerusalem
95
The Political Significance of Numerous Jerusalems
101
A Proposal That Could Work but that Politicians Cannot Articulate
104
Multiple Disputes
129
Ambiguities
135
Coping with Our Neighbors and Ourselves
139
Finality Like Consistency Is the Preoccupation of Small Minds
143
If Social Science Is Ambiguous Can Governance Be Different?
147
Points in the Historical Record
149
James S Coleman and Others
152
What Does It All Mean?
156
Coping with the Downside of Coping
161
Political Perspectives and the Judgment of Coping
164
Coping with the Problems of Coping
166
When is Coping Worth the Costs?
168
Notes
171
For Further Reading
193
Index
197
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About the author (1999)

IRA SHARKANSKY is Professor of Political Science and Public Administration at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Earlier he taught at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He has published articles and books on policy making, public administration, politics and religion, American and Israeli politics, including most recently, Policymaking in Israel and Rituals of Conflict.

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