Thursday, 14 November 2013

Hirschman’s Rhetoric of Reaction

Via Ian H, article by Alex Marsh:

Overall, the report reads rather like it was written by backward induction. That is, it started from the statement which can be found in the conclusion (p57)…

The report reminded me strongly of the argument in Hirschman’s Rhetoric of Reaction. Hirschman identified three reactionary narratives – the perversity thesis, the futility thesis and the jeopardy thesis – designed to frustrate proposals for change.

The perversity thesis is that any action intended to improve some part of society will turn out only to make the situation worse.

The futility thesis argues that attempts to change the situation will not really make any difference to the problem so there is not point trying.

And the jeopardy thesis argues that the costs of the reform will be high and jeopardise some other valued achievement.