James C. Scott’s book The Art of Not Being Governed is offered, in this essay review, as the latest evidence of the high value of Scott’s transdisciplinary research into how ordinary people resist state power. Scott’s critics have found his work methodologically deficient, suggesting that his approach is more a matter of art than of science. In this defense of methodological pluralism, Scott’s approach is shown to be vindicated by his insights into how the peoples of Zomia evolved ways to evade incorporation, over a period of centuries, into any of the states of Southeast Asia. Scott’s book is examined as a prime example of how the study of politics can and should help to effect political change — and its insights on anarchism as a way of life are applied to the Occupy Wall Street movement.
Sanford F. Schram; The Artful Study of Not Being Governed: Better Political Science for a Better World. Common Knowledge 1 August 2012; 18 (3): 528–537. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/0961754X-1630442
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