In exact sciences, researchers can conduct and repeat experiments so they can propose solid models. In the social sciences, however, it is not so easy. The "research subjects" are humans and their behavior, which are notoriously difficult to predict. Elaborate models for a given society often prove to be useless when one tries to apply it to another society, or to the same society in a different time.
Social scientists are nevertheless still trying to develop certain models to figure out behavioral patterns. They often use historical sources to develop their models, as they try to compare socio-political conditions in the hope of predicting the near future.
Since the end of the Cold War, social scientists were busy explaining our time's economic and political conditions. But in today's world, it seems their models are not useful anymore. There is constant crisis between the rulers and their peoples, between the rich and the poor, between the majority and the minorities. This is true in authoritarian regimes, as well as in liberal democracies.
Current social and political models are incapable of dealing with this permanent crisis and we are seeing the consequences of certain models' insufficiency, especially in democratic, rich countries. Because these are transparent countries, where you can observe the institutions functioning better, the consequences of their actions are more accessible.
Recently, we have seen how dysfunctional the United States' presidential election system is. Hillary Clinton received more votes at the national level, yet the electoral system is so odd that Donald Trump was proclaimed the winner. This electoral system was adopted for several reasons back in the 18th century and it was probably a reasonable system then. Today's America is extremely different to what it was then, but the system remains the same. Moreover, most experts believe that it will not be possible to modify the system in the foreseeable future.
The British government had the idea of asking the people whether or not they wanted to remain in the EU. People voted mostly according to that specific moment's state of mind. As a result, the leave vote won, and right after the announcement of the results, one could sense a general feeling of regret. Besides, the British people have realized that their votes will affect not only the U.K.'s future but the EU's as well. But it is too late.
Italy voted last Sunday in a referendum proposed by the government. Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi announced that the referendum's purpose was to get a more efficient and solid government. He lost, however. He has to step down now, maybe opening the way for euroskeptics to form a new government.
The British and Italian governments asked for these referendums but they did not expect these results, because they believed the old models that explained society's political behavior were still accurate. They were not. Now populist and nationalist politicians are growing stronger in those countries because of the governments' miscalculations.
If the world fails to develop new models and shape new systems, all the great powers are going to end up with nationalist, populist, introverted governments. These kind of governments have a bad habit: In order to hide their insufficiencies, they find enemies and provoke hatred for that enemy in the population. This is what happened at the end of the 19th century. Like today, the system was blocked back then, and this blockage caused two world wars.
This is not a jolly comparison, I know, but if societies do not manage to find a solution to the current climate of crisis, one cannot expect anything good to come of it. Those countries that had always been "good models" for the world are now sinking into deep crises, and they do not seem to be able to find a way out.