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

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Greenwood Publishing Group, 1999 - Political Science - 203 pages
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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
1
Coping
5
Politics
19
Governance
20
Rational Decision Making
21
The Supremacy of Politics in Governance
22
Coping Is Humane as Well as Inevitabl
23
Why Israel?
27
On the Advantages of Coping and Ambiguity in Jerusalem
107
Jewish Ambiguities in Jerusalem
109
A Name
110
Assessing Israel
111
Allegations and Assessment
115
Testing the Claims
118
Is the Glass Half Empty or Half Full?
126
Ambiguities of the Peace Process
129

National Security
28
Immigration
29
A Cumbersome Giant
31
Limits to Israels Power
33
Moving Towards Normality
46
Ambiguity in Religion as Well as Politics
53
Ambiguity in Religion
54
The Positive and Negative Sides of Ambiguity
60
Religion and Politics in the Jewish State
61
Religion and Politics in Utah
67
On the Nature of Religions
76
A Typology of Ambiguity in Policymaking and Administration
79
Which Jerusalem?
93
Synonyms for Jerusalem
96
Which Locale of Jerusalem
97
The Political Significance of Numerous Jerusalems
103
A Proposal That Could Work but that Politicians Cannot Articulate
106
Multiple Disputes
131
Ambiguities
137
Coping with Our Neighbors and Ourselves
141
Finality Like Consistency Is the Preoccupation of Small Minds
145
If Social Science Is Ambiguous Can Governance Be Different?
149
Points in the Historical Record
151
James S Coleman and Others
154
What Does It All Mean?
158
Coping with the Downside of Coping
163
Political Perspectives and the Judgment of Coping
166
Coping with the Problems of Coping
168
When is Coping Worth the Costs?
170
Notes
173
For Further Reading
195
Index
199
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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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