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Wicked Problems, Workable Solutions

Lessons from a Public Life

Daniel Yankelovich

After five decades of studying how Americans respond to public issues, Daniel Yankelovich presents a strategy to nurture the greater public wisdom necessary for modern society to confront its most wicked problems. Having been an advisor to major corporations and influential media, business and government organizations, Yankelovich is a leading public opinion expert who has had a long career studying, questioning, and reporting on national issues, trends, and opinions. Stagnant incomes, blocked social mobility, political polarization, dysfunctional educational, criminal, and health care systems and global instability plague the welfare of not only the United States, but also the entire world. By instituting a few powerful innovations we can revolutionize today’s inattentive public into a thoughtful, action-oriented populous. Yankelovich shares the philosophical foundation of his successful career and revisits some of his breakthrough experiences, drawing insightful conclusions applicable to our current condition. Full of stories of how destinies can change when people abandon ingrained, unproductive thinking habits, Wicked Problems, Workable Solutions lays out a pragmatic design to reboot democracy and lead our society forward into a more promising future. « less more »
Rowman & Littlefield Publishers
Pages: 224Size: 6 1/2 x 9 1/2
978-1-4422-4480-1 • Hardback • December 2014 • $38.00 • (£24.95)
978-1-4422-4481-8 • eBook • December 2014 • $36.00 • (£24.95)
Daniel Yankelovich is chairman of Public Agenda (co-founded in 1975) and founder of the Yankelovich Center for Social Science Research at the University of California at San Diego. He was also founder of the New York Times/Yankelovich Poll and the business research firm, Yankelovich, Skelly and White.
PART I: Elitism Versus Democracy
1. Introduction: Americas Wicked Problems
2. Retrofitting The Plumbing Of Democracy
3. A Plea For Adaptive Sanity
4. Four Wrong Turns
5. Why We Cant Rely On Our Culture
6. Straight And Crooked Thinking
7. Caring and Stewardship
8. Elite Forms of Groupthink
9. From Martin Heidegger To Lloyd Blankfein
10.Transitioning to a Thoughtful Public - A Strategy

PART II: Understanding the Publics Learning Curve
11. An Accidental Profession
12. Starting My Own Firm
13. Part Science
14. Part Circus
15. Smart People; Dumb Mistakes
16. New Methods Of Conducting Research
17. Research Designed For Action
18. Never Present More Than One Idea At A Time
19. Tracking The Cultural Revolution
20. A Special Brand Of Rebellion
21. Whos Afraid Of The Generation Gap
22. High-Risk Experiments Without A Net
23. America Tells Itself A New Story
24. The Yankelovich Monitor
25. Founding The Public Agenda
26. The Elitist Double Whammy
27. Missed Chances To Regain The Public Trust
28. Coming To Public Judgment
29. Losing the Battle With The News Media
30. How My Philosophy For Living Evolved

PART III: My Philosophy For Living
31. Dinner With Quine
32. How Scientism Nearly Devoured Philosophy
33. My Wrong Map Problem
34. A Look At Existentialism
35. Finding A Better Framework
36. Applying Philosophy To Psychoanalysis
37. Ego and Instinct In Retrospect
38. The Mindset Of The Iron Cage: Prying It Open
39. Dont Fight Human Nature!
40. Co-Evolution
41. Culture Is Inescapable
42. Structuring Your Own Philosophy For Living
43. Some Philosophical Tweets to Live By
[A]nyone who is working to create a more democratic and engaged society [should] read Wicked Problems, Workable Solutions. Dan is a true legend, and this book reminds us why he is one of the most insightful social scientists of our time. I’m honored to serve on the board of Public Agenda, and applaud Dan’s lifetime of work to improve our democracy and insure that the public’s voice has been heard.
Sunlight Foundation

Daniel Yankelovich is one of the truly wise men of our time. His insights into the character of the American public are both profound and useful. Read this book and you will understand why.
David Mathews, president and CEO, Kettering Foundation

Fantastic. This is the most trenchant and incisive analysis of our country’s situation that I have ever read. Yankelovich cuts to the heart of what the problems are. I hope that we are, as the author says, “brave enough and smart enough” to find the workable problems. Certainly, this book is the critical first step to understanding what those problems are and moving forward from them.
Jeff Elman, dean, Social Sciences Division, University of California, San Diego

Daniel Yankelovich is one of the great students of American life. In this personable and engaging book he not only identifies some of the central "wicked problems" of contemporary American culture, but he also calls for and begins to articulate the change in our understanding of ourselves that we must undergo in order to solve them. In short, he calls for each of us to take up a distinctively American philosophy of living, one that is fit to the demands of a free and civically engaged democratic society. There is wisdom in this book.
Sean Kelly, chair, Department of Philosophy, Harvard University

Wicked Problem, Workable Solutions reflects a lifetime of pragmatic and creative inquiry into how to help the public play its essential role in making our democracy work. Timely and wise, it shows a path forward amid the challenges of our troubled times.
Will Friedman, president, Public Agenda

Distinguished social scientist Daniel Yankelovich applies the fascinating knowledge and wisdom gained from a lifetime of public opinion research to describe the unintended consequence of policies designed to secure the well-being of all Americans. His wise and clear-sighted analysis provides each of us with a personal guide to find the path to a more productive personal and national future.
Norton Garfinkle, chairman, The Future of American Democracy Foundation

In Wicked Problems, Workable Solutions the truly legendary Daniel Yankelovich reminds us why he is one of the most insightful social scientists of our time. Part memoir and part road map, this book is must reading for anyone who thinks deeply about making a difference and leading a life of meaning.
Chris Gates, president, Sunlight Foundation