Ideas, Politics and Institutions

The three “New Institutionalisms” in Political Science

Narrowly defined, institutions mean formal and informal norms that determine political behaviour. They devise not only who the political actors are, but also their strategies and preferences—thus not only the intended political action, but all available options. The in situation is central to all three paradigms of New Institutionalism in political science: the historical, the rational choice and the sociological institutionalism. There have been many undertakings to provide a comparative analysis of these three schools of thought, yet most of these were without the ambition of a synthesis. My essay constitutes an attempt—against the backdrop of an assessment of contemporary literature—to delineate one possible way of providing such a synthesis by introducing the variable of ideas. I investigate the role political ideas could possibly play in the explanation of institutional change within the framework of each of these three paradigms.

Released: Replika 74, 35–62.
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