New book by DPIR’s Ben Ansell explores challenges societies face in achieving broadly-shared goals.

In Why Politics Fails - released in the UK today - Professor of Comparative Democratic Institutions at DPIR and Nuffield College Ben Ansell examines the difficulties societies have in reaching collective goals of democracy, equality, solidarity, security and prosperity.

Professor Ansell offers the theory that - in each instance - they get caught in a trap, where individual interests prevent them from reaching their aims.

He argues that, to overcome these political obstacles, societies will need to design effective institutions and follow - or maybe even change - social conventions.

He goes on to explore solutions to these problems and reveals that - while we may hate politics - we ultimately rely upon it to get the world we want.

The key message Professor Ansell hopes to convey is that, while political problems are ubiquitous, only by taking politics seriously can society can make true social progress.

I'm delighted to write my first book for a general audience, building on two decades of my own research and cutting edge scholarship in the social sciences.

I hope the book gets readers excited, not only frustrated (!), about the challenges and the possibilities of contemporary politics.

Ben Ansell, Professor of Comparative Democratic Institutions at DPIR and Nuffield College

Prior to his current appointment, Professor Ansell studied and worked in the US for more than a decade. He has worked in government, written for major national news outlets including The Times, Telegraph, and New Statesman and had his work covered in venues as diverse as The New York Times, The Economist, Radio 4's Start the Week, and Times Radio. He was elected Fellow of the British Academy in 2018 and co-editor of Comparative Political Studies, one of the leading academic journals in political science.