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Janine Wedel Virtually Speaking with Jay Ackroyd

  • Broadcast in Politics
Jay Ackroyd

Jay Ackroyd


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Jay Ackroyd talks with Janine R. Wedel, professor of Public Policy at George Mason University. Typically, specialists in Public Policy receive their training in Political Science, Government, Law, or History, but Wedel received a Ph.D. in Cultural Anthropology from the University of California at Berkeley. This unique background, the study of human behavior, has given her work an originality that have made her one of the most astute observers of the sweeping changes occasioned by the fall of the Soviet Union and the spread of globalization. Wedel’s first book, The Private Poland (1986), was an ethnography of the everyday lives of Poles living under Communist rule in the former Eastern Bloc. domination and how they were able to create a functioning society, often with the active support of an inept communist regime.

Wedel’s most recent book, The Shadow Elite, picks up where Collision and Collision left off. She argues that the wheeler-dealers who could operate with impunity in the old Soviet Bloc have become the model for a new kind of social actor: the flexian. Instead of playing any single role—diplomat, entrepreneur, journalist—flexians are in and out at the same time, using the respectability of public office to mask their self-aggrandizement, or leveraging their apparent neutrality in support for highly partisan policies. Wedel represents the flexian as the embodiment of an emerging social order in which the common good is increasingly sacrificed for private gain.

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