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New Institutionalism

New Institutionalism: Theory and Analysis

  • Book Info
    New Institutionalism
    Book Description:

    New Institutionalism is currently one of the most prominent approaches in political science. In this innovative collection, top scholars in the field offer substantial theoretical and analytical contributions to new institutionalist scholarship, engaging in debates about structure and agency, state-society relations, institutional creation and change, preference formation, and the complicated web of relationships between institutions, culture, ideas, identity, rationality, and interests.

    From an analytical point of view, the contributors examine how the state and political institutions shape a variety of political phenomena and outcomes, namely, nationalism, democratic transition, party aggregation, policy networks, war and peace, international recognition, sovereignty, and selected public policies. They offer thorough theoretical reflections on the relationship between institutions and society as well as on the role of institutions in political analysis.

    Featuring discussions of comparative politics, public policy, and international relations, as well as the institutionalist traditions of English and French Canadian political science, this collection from editor André Lecours is a comprehensive examination of the subject, making it a crucial addition to any political scientist?s library.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-7763-0
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. Contributors
    (pp. ix-2)
  5. 1 New Institutionalism: Issues and Questions
    (pp. 3-26)

    Renewed attention to institutions in political science over the past ten to fifteen years is a trend that has been widely recognized, discussed, and debated. This effort to emphasize the theoretical importance of institutions, succinctly expressed by slogans such as ‘bringing the state back in’ and ‘structuring politics’ typically is associated with a school that has come to be known as new institutionalism.¹ New institutionalists have made the case for giving institutions analytical primacy, but substantial disagreements remain over how institutional analysis should be carried out. New institutionalism has its critics. Some have suggested that it suffers from theoretical and...

  6. PART ONE Theoretical Reflections on New Institutionalism

    • [PART 1 Introduction]
      (pp. 27-28)

      The first part features theoretical discussions of new institutionalism. It tackles questions about the nature of institutions, the process of institutional change, the dynamic of structure-agency relationships, the methodology and epistemology of institutionalist analysis, and the relationship between institutions and other analytical variables and concepts, such as rationality, strategy, interests, identities, and culture.

      These contributions are critical of at least some aspects of new institutionalism, namely its vague conceptualization of institutions, its weakness in providing an explanation for change coherent with its own logic, and its poor integration of ideational forces as well as, in the case of historical institutionalism,...

    • 2 Ideas, Interests, and Institutions: Historical Institutionalism Revisited
      (pp. 29-50)

      Historical institutionalism is based on the assumption that a historically constructed set of institutional constraints and feedbacks structure the behaviour of political actors and interest groups during the policy-making process.¹ As stated by Theda Skocpol, ‘this approach views the polity as the primary locus for action, yet understands political activities, whether carried by politicians or by social groups, as conditioned by institutional configurations of governments and political party systems.’² Such astructuralapproach of politics recognizes the autonomy of the political arena while directly taking into account the impact of previously enacted measures on policymaking. In contrast with sociological and...

    • 3 Theorizing Institutional Change
      (pp. 51-79)

      The claim that ‘institutions matter’ for structuring social and political outcomes might make intuitive sense. It has provoked widespread debate, however, in the social sciences about the merits of institutional over more established forms of analysis. An initial impediment to assessing the relative advantages of new institutionalism for political science was the difficulty in distinguishing between its various forms and identifying its research agenda. In an influential article that provided a great service to the discipline, Peter Hall and Rosemary Taylor drew out the distinctions between historical, rational choice, and sociological institutionalism and attempted to map out their respective research...

    • 4 Institutions and Political Rationality
      (pp. 80-98)

      In this chapter, I present an argument about institutions and political rationality. My goal is to question some of the conventional ways in which institutional theories are set up as alternatives to rational choice theory in political analysis. Institutional theories, I will argue, do a poor job of clarifying our theoretical options. Thus, while my perspective on political analysis is influenced by theories of rational choice, the purpose of this chapter is not to argue for the superiority of rational choice institutionalism over other varieties of institutionalism.

      This goal is pursued in the following ways. First, many rational choice theorists...

  7. [PART TWO Introduction]
    (pp. 99-100)

    The second part looks at new institutionalism in light of the study of Canadian politics, both its English and French language components.* Here, the authors examine to what extent the field of Canadian politics has an institutionalist tradition and how this tradition compares with new institutionalism. They also assess the impact of the new institutionalist movement on contemporary research on Canadian politics.

    At the broadest level, the two contributions in this part ask how state-society relations and the impact of institutions on action have been conceptualized in scholarship on Canadian politics. They highlight differences in the treatment of institutions by...

  8. PART THREE New Institutionalism in Comparative Politics

    • [PART 3 Introduction]
      (pp. 151-154)

      The third part of this book features contributions exploring the potential of new institutionalism to shed light on three topics in comparative politics: democratic transitions, nationalism, and party aggregation. The chapter on democratic transitions is a critical assessment of the impact of new institutionalism on that area of research while those on nationalism and party aggregation represent efforts at using new institutionalist approaches to improve our theoretical understanding of these political processes.

      The chapters in this part are chiefly concerned with asking how and to what extent institutional analysis can explain change: the first two chapters examine the issue of...

    • 7 New Institutionalism and the Crisis of Transitology
      (pp. 155-175)

      The ‘carnation revolution’ put an end to dictatorship in Portugal in 1974, and launched an era of political renewal in Southern Europe and Latin America. Since then, thanks to the pioneering work of Guillermo O’Donnell and Philippe Schmitter,¹ the study of the transformation of political regimes has resulted in a sub-discipline in political science: democratization studies. These studies concern a ‘relatively consensual range of axioms, concepts and hypotheses which have made it possible for politologists to describe, analyze, explain and, occasionally, predict the phases and dynamics leading to the transformation of political regimes.’² The term ‘democratization studies’ refers to the...

    • 8 Structuring Nationalism
      (pp. 176-201)

      The impact of new institutionalism has been felt unevenly throughout the field of comparative politics. The renewed interest for institutions in political science has been clearly visible in several research areas including political parties, legislatures, and executives, particularly through rational choice institutionalism;¹ the state and sovereignty;² European integration;³ social movements and interest groups;⁴ development;⁵ and democratic transitions.⁶ One area where the impact of new institutionalism has been barely noticeable, however, is nationalism. There is a remarkable continuity in the research questions that have been central to the scholarship on nationalism, and these questions tend not to focus on the issue...

    • 9 Institutional Change and Its Consequences: The Rational Foundations of Party System Change in India
      (pp. 202-222)

      The general election of 1989 ushered in a new era in the history of India’s national party system. The previous four decades, since the country gained its independence in 1947 and held its first competitive multiparty elections in 1952, had been characterized by a recurring pattern whereby national elections would result in single-party majority victories leading to the formation of single-party majority governments. This pattern, however, came to a definite end with the 1989 election, which resulted in a sudden increase in the fragmentation of the party system. A central characteristic of the new era is the inability of any...

  9. PART FOUR New Institutionalism and Public Policy Analysis

    • [PART 4 Introduction]
      (pp. 223-224)

      This fourth part looks at the contribution of new institutionalism to the study of public policy. At the broadest level, these chapters analyse the impact of institutions as intermediate-level variables on micro-level behaviour and policy outcomes. They focus on how institutions shape policymaking, including the mobilization of actors and the structuring of policy networks and interest groups. Two chapters argue that institutions have far-reaching consequences not strictly for policy outcomes but also for the organization of civil society and the role played by groups in the political process. The other articulates a critique of new institutionalism’s reliance on path dependency...

    • 10 Westminster Parliamentarism, Policy Networks, and the Behaviour of Political Actors
      (pp. 225-244)

      Nowadays, policy studies can hardly produce convincing explanations without accounting for the role of institutions.¹ Assessing the precise impact of institutions on policy choices, however, remains a difficult task. Institutional effects, Fritz Scharpf has argued, are contingent on several additional factors. He discussed two of them: the nature of policy challenges and the constellation of the normative preferences of policy actors. Adding to the complexity, he contended, actors’ preferences are themselves influenced by institutions.² This idea has been further pursued by Pierson and Skocpol, who have emphasized that there are intense interactions among these variables. The interactions are so intense...

    • 11 Social Learning, Third Way Politics, and Welfare State Redesign
      (pp. 245-275)

      Early policy efforts at promoting the welfare of children and mothers in the nineteenth century played a key role in the formation of the modern welfare state.¹ Now, as we are entering the twenty-first century, children are once again at the top of the political agenda. As a result of social changes and new knowledge, child-related issues have taken on greater significance across a broad range of policy sectors.³ Increasingly, decision-makers in industrialized nations are recognizing the importance of the ‘early years’ as a new policy space worthy of government intervention and new ‘social investments.’⁴ same as the ones in...

    • 12 National Institutional Veto Points and Continental Policy Change: Failing to Amend the U.S.-Canada Migratory Birds Convention
      (pp. 276-296)

      The growth in popularity of new institutionalism has renewed attention to the influence of the institutional context of political relations on policy development and change. With few exceptions, the impact of domestic political institutions has not been extensively explored in the field of international policy. Using some of the theoretical tools developed by new institutionalism, especially the concept of veto point, this chapter is a contribution towards our understanding of international policy change. Through analysis of a case drawn from U.S.-Canada environmental policy, it is argued that domestic political institutions, as well as transnational political activism, should be considered important...

  10. PART FIVE Institutionalist Analysis in International Relations

    • [PART 5 Introduction]
      (pp. 297-300)

      The last part of this book assesses the impact of new institutionalism on the field of international relations. International relations has its own institutionalist tradition, but this literature rarely comes into contact with the new institutionalism in comparative politics despite the fact that institutionalist analyses in both fields tend to share similar dilemmas. In this context, cross-disciplinary dialogue can only enhance our theoretical understanding of institutions. In this spirit, the contributions in this part show how new institutionalism can be used to gain insight into three issues central to international relations: sovereignty, war and peace, and diplomatic recognition.

      This part...

    • 13 Moving beyond (or beneath) the Democratic Peace Theory: Intermediate-Level Institutions and Foreign Security Policy
      (pp. 301-318)

      The foreign economic policy literature and the foreign policy literature more broadly have adapted well to new institutionalism. One subfield, however, has remained relatively impervious to its more powerful insights. The foreign security policy literature, dominated as it has been by realists and traditional scholars, has largely ignored the influence of political institutions. To the extent that security theorists have included institutions in their analyses, their focus has been on the role of macrolevel institutions, such as regime type. Indeed, the most popular institutional theory in the security studies area is the widely accepted, but poorly specified ‘democratic peace theory’...

    • 14 Canada and the Global Diffusion of ‘One China’
      (pp. 319-340)

      As new institutionalism began to surge in popularity in political science,¹ the question of its empirical relevance became a subject of concern. In international relations, new institutionalism is mostly associated with regime theory, which aims to explain the formation of multilateral clusters of shared rules, expectations, procedures, or principles that result from and facilitate cooperative behaviour within typically ‘low polities’ issue areas.² However, there are several versions of new institutionalism that can be applied in this context. Working from a broader institutionalist perspective, but in a way divergent from mainstream international relations regime theory, this chapter examines a case of...

    • 15 Constructing the State: Sovereignty in Comparative and International Perspectives - The View from East Asia
      (pp. 341-364)

      This chapter provides a synthesis of neo-institutional analysis with social constructivism in examining the impact of the institution of state sovereignty as imposed on and adapted in East Asia. This institution was imposed on East Asia by the western powers, and in the process East Asian institutions were reshaped and adapted to those of the principal states of the international system. Where the international system does not directly regulate the internal structure of states, it does so indirectly, for example, through access to resources, trade privileges, and private and public capital flows, and thus consolidates state elites and anchors the...

    • Back Matter
      (pp. 365-366)