Scholars investigating the interaction between states and contentious challengers have regularly argued that states usually respond to such citizen groups at a snail's pace, if they respond at all. Typically, social scientists have classified changes in central government policy as immobilist (states never alter strategies, cf Kitschelt 1986), incrementalist (states change policies slowly regardless of external challenges, cf. Argyris and Schon 1978), or punctuated equilibria (states remain in status quo until a major exogenous shock, cf Calder 1986, Kasza 2002).
Aldrich's thesis moves away from these earlier theories of state response and adaptation to develop the idea of institutional co-evolution, in which the state alters not only its policies and strategies but also its institutional structure to better cope with its challengers. Drawing on the fields of organizational behavior from business schools and policing studies from sociology, he finds evidence that central governments under certain circumstances move continuously and rapidly to deal with contentious challengers. The title of his talk, the "Red Queen" draws from the world of Alice in Wonderland, in which the Red Queen argues "it takes all the running you can do, to simply stay in the same place."
Daniel P. ALDRICH is a Fulbright Visiting Scholar at the Institute of Social Science at the University of Tokyo and a Ph.D. candidate in the Government Department at Harvard University. He is currently completing 15 months of dissertation fieldwork in Japan on the interaction between states and citizens in the field of controversial facility siting.