Is the title of the newest monograph from Alexei Anisin, Ph.D., AAU’s Dean of the School of International Relations & Diplomacy. It is also the third book from Professor Anisin this year! In contrast to his two previous monographs on mass shootings, this time he focuses on the etymology of “mechanisms” in social science theory, taking us on a journey through time. Starting with Ancient Greece and finishing with the rise of digital technology in the XXI century, he presents the socio-cultural settings on how the understanding of the concept changed, while contributing valuable insights into the discussion on the nature, understanding and origins of this concept.

From the publisher’s note:

Mechanisms are frequently brought up across the natural and social sciences as supplements to laws and empirical regularities. Recent decades have seen an explosion in mechanistic explanations in which philosophers of science, natural scientists, and social scientists have advocated, debated, and criticized the usage of mechanisms in their respective disciplines. As the intensity of these debates has increased, our understanding of the historical origin of mechanisms remains incomplete. Of the explanations that have been put forward, it has been argued that the roots of mechanisms are to be found in mechanical philosophy. This book demonstrates that an important set of factors have been overlooked in our understanding of the ontology of mechanisms. In shifting attention to a never-before-explored terrain in the etymological and semantic evolution of what arguably is the most commonly used scientific term, “the mechanism,” this text discovers that the origin of mechanisms is to be witnessed in ideas about social causality that arose within Ancient Greek tragedy and theater. It takes readers on a journey through socio-cultural settings and changes in Ancient Greece, early Christianity, the Roman Empire, and the Middle Ages, as well as the rise of science and modernity, and finishes in our current era of digital technology. As such, the book reveals how understandings of mechanisms have changed and evolved across time.

Alexei Anisin (Ph.D., Government, University of Essex), is the Dean and Senior Lecturer in the School of International Studies and Diplomacy. He has conducted postdoctoral research in the Institute of Political Studies, Charles University Prague. His interests are in applying multi-methodological tools including quantitative methods, qualitative comparative analysis, and causal process tracing to research questions on social conflict and political violence. He specializes in Comparative Politics; Political Violence; Mass Murder; Nonviolence. Quantitative and Qualitative Methods; Boolean and Decision-theoretic Modeling.