Historical Institutionalism in Political Science Institutionalism in Political Science ... Within international relations, ... epiphenomenal of economic relations, Political Science experienced a new ...

Download Historical Institutionalism in Political Science  Institutionalism in Political Science ... Within international relations, ... epiphenomenal of economic relations, Political Science experienced a new ...

Post on 16-Mar-2018




3 download

Embed Size (px)


<ul><li><p> 1 </p><p>Historical Institutionalism in Political Science </p><p>Orfeo Fioretos, Tulia G. Falleti and Adam Sheingate1 </p><p>May 2013 </p><p>I. Introduction </p><p>Historical institutionalism is a research tradition dedicated to the study of the </p><p>origins, evolution, and consequences of political institutions from the local to the global </p><p>level. Growing out of an institutional turn in the social sciences, historical </p><p>institutionalism is distinguished by a theoretical commitment to the temporal dimensions </p><p>of politics: how the timing and sequence of past events generate lasting legacies that </p><p>shape the scope, character, and consequences of governing authority. Understood as the </p><p>rules, norms, and practices that organize and constitute social relations, institutions are at </p><p>the center of this research tradition for their role in creating constraints and opportunities </p><p>for political action, in distributing political power, and in shaping political preferences </p><p>over time. Attention to the temporal character of institutions is crucial if political </p><p>scientists wish to answer questions such as why policies take their particular form, why </p><p>institutions privilege certain outcomes, or why inequalities endure. </p><p>The scope and sophistication of historical institutionalism has grown over the past </p><p>twenty-five years, extending throughout the discipline of Political Science. In </p><p> 1 Draft introduction to the Oxford Handbook of Historical Institutionalism, edited </p><p>by Orfeo Fioretos, Tulia G. Falleti, and Adam Sheingate (New York and London: Oxford University Press, forthcoming 2015). The introduction is the product of a collaborative partnership that began in 2012. The editors thank Dominic Byatt of OUP for his early and enthusiastic support of the project. </p></li><li><p> 2 </p><p>comparative politics, historical institutionalism has been particularly influential and </p><p>shapes research agendas in virtually every substantive area, from research on the modern </p><p>state, capitalism, law, and economic development to the study of political regimes, </p><p>political parties, organized societal actors, and public policy. Historical institutionalism is </p><p>central to the study of American political development, focusing on the elusive character </p><p>of the American state and the legacy of struggles over race and citizenship that animate </p><p>much of U.S. politics. In the area of European politics, historical institutionalism is </p><p>central to the study of political parties, the power of business, the attributes of welfare </p><p>states, and the process of European integration. Within international relations, historical </p><p>institutionalism informs seminal contributions on state sovereignty and foreign economic </p><p>policy, as well as research in international security, political economy, law, and global </p><p>governance. </p><p>With its growing empirical reach, historical institutionalism developed a distinct </p><p>conceptual toolbox for understanding the causal mechanisms that underpin processes of </p><p>institutional durability and change. Its theoretical range extends along several </p><p>continuums, such as from materialist accounts of institutional politics to explorations of </p><p>the role of ideas in preference formation, and from structural explanations of political </p><p>outcomes to narratives that highlight the transformative capacity of human agency. </p><p>Historical institutionalism has contributed to vibrant methodological debates as well, </p><p>sitting at the forefront of multi-method research. In particular, historical institutionalism </p><p>has fostered a productive exchange between scholars who embrace deeply </p><p>historiographical methods and scholars who draw more explicitly on the public choice </p><p>tradition as well as large-n statistical studies. Finally, historical institutionalism has </p></li><li><p> 3 </p><p>forged links with allied disciplines and facilitated exchange between Political Science, </p><p>History, Economics, and Sociology, among others. </p><p>As the world again struggles to understand the short and long-term effects of </p><p>unexpected events like financial crises, social revolutions, and redistributions of global </p><p>power, historical institutionalism is poised to make new contributions. This volume takes </p><p>stock of the accomplishments of historical institutionalism and identifies promising new </p><p>areas of research. Chapters explore how historical institutionalism has revisited </p><p>conventional wisdoms, resolved long-standing puzzles, and opened new areas of inquiry. </p><p>They discuss historical institutionalisms contributions to the study of politics, areas </p><p>where historical institutionalism complements other work in institutional analysis, and </p><p>the extent to which the tradition itself has responded to criticisms directed its way. </p><p>In this introduction we set the stage for the analyses, arguments, and assessments </p><p>that follow. We begin by detailing the origin and crystallization of historical </p><p>institutionalism, discuss its analytical core, survey some of its empirical findings, and </p><p>assess its promise for addressing both enduring and new debates in Political Science. </p><p>II. The Emergence and Crystallization of Historical Institutionalism </p><p>Historical institutionalism has deep roots in Political Science, going back to </p><p>classics in political economy that traced the emergence and development of capitalism </p><p>and democracy (Polanyi 1944, Gerschenkron 1962, Moore 1966). Early studies paid </p><p>close attention to the role of timing and sequence in shaping the diverse trajectories of </p><p>nation-states. In the late 1970s and 1980s, as efforts to reinvigorate the state as an object </p><p>of study dovetailed with a renewed interest in institutions, scholars developed a </p></li><li><p> 4 </p><p>conceptually more precise understanding of the causal impact of history and institutions </p><p>for political life. By the early 1990s, historical institutionalism crystalized into a </p><p>distinctive tradition of institutional analysis that addressed an expanding array of topics </p><p>and problems in Political Science. </p><p>As cruder variants of behavioralism, pluralism, and Marxism were called into </p><p>question during the 1970s and 1980s for treating formal arrangements of political </p><p>authority simply as arenas within which actors and groups competed for power and as </p><p>epiphenomenal of economic relations, Political Science experienced a new institutional </p><p>turn. Scholars began to highlight the causal role of formal rules in constituting actors and </p><p>constraining their behavior, and pointed to the role of institutions in ordering political life </p><p>through regulative, normative, and cognitive mechanisms. There emerged, however, </p><p>important differences in how scholars studied institutions and in the claims they made </p><p>about their impact (March and Olsen 1984; Hall and Taylor 1998; Immergut 1998). For </p><p>scholars working in a rationalist tradition, institutions induced stability by limiting the </p><p>range of alternatives actors confront. Scholars working in a sociological tradition </p><p>emphasized the normative and cognitive dimensions of institutions, such as logics of </p><p>appropriateness that dictated roles and scripts followed by actors. While sharing some of </p><p>these theoretical commitments, scholars developing the historical institutional variety </p><p>placed particular emphasis on the temporal dimension of politics, or on how the </p><p>distributional effects of institutional changes and continuities shape political behavior and </p><p>outcomes over time. </p><p>The new wave of historical institutional scholars built considerably upon previous </p><p>work that examined the emergence of the modern state and its significance for </p></li><li><p> 5 </p><p>understanding contemporary politics. What the newer generation of scholars </p><p>accomplished was to foreground the state as an historical construct of time and place. </p><p>Thus, Nettls (1968) early discussion of the state as a conceptual variable anticipated </p><p>and informed later work in comparative politics that sought to bring the state back in </p><p>(Evans et al, 1985), helped launch the study of American political development focused </p><p>on the emergence of a new American state (Skowronek 1982), and stimulated </p><p>scholarship in international relations that highlighted how historical variations in state-</p><p>society relations shaped foreign economic policies (e.g. Krasner 1976; Katzenstein 1978; </p><p>Ikenberry 1988). </p><p>A central theme running through much of the early work on the state was that it </p><p>was a partly autonomous actor working above and through society, rather than simply </p><p>being a reflection of a pluralist process (Nordlinger 1981). Specifically, the degree to </p><p>which states approximated the Weberian ideal of a rational, modern bureaucracy was </p><p>highlighted as a source behind diverse policy outcomes within and across states </p><p>(Skowronek 1982, Skocpol and Finegold 1982). In making an ontological claim about </p><p>the status of the state as an object of inquiry in Political Science, these scholars also made </p><p>a theoretical claim (sometimes implicitly) about the historical processes that shaped the </p><p>nature of the state, its formation over time, and its capacities. For example, Theda </p><p>Skocpols (1979) early study of social revolutions explored how the timing and nature of </p><p>peasant revolts influenced patterns of regime breakdown and shaped the possibilities for </p><p>post-revolutionary state-building. From this point of departure, scholars began to pay </p><p>attention to the timing of events, patterns of political development, and the legacy effects </p><p>of political structures created in the past. </p></li><li><p> 6 </p><p>As scholars deepened their study of the state and gradually expanded their </p><p>empirical focus beyond it, they began to write more self-consciously about the temporal </p><p>dimensions of politics. The 1992 publication of Structuring Politics is an important </p><p>turning point in this regard. More than simply coining a term, the contributors to the </p><p>volume executed an important shift in emphasis from a historically oriented focus on </p><p>institutions to an explicitly historical institutionalism.2 This required staking out a set of </p><p>fundamental and foundational claims about the operation of institutions and their effects </p><p>on preference formation, coalition building, policy evolution, and political dynamics </p><p>(Steinmo and Thelen 1992). Put another way, from a focus on patterns in state formation </p><p>across time and space, scholars set to work developing an analytical toolbox for the </p><p>diachronic study of politics and the elaboration of claims about processes of institutional </p><p>creation, reproduction, and change. </p><p>An important development contributing to the crystallization of historical </p><p>institutionalism was growing skepticism with the way rational choice institutionalism </p><p>took individual preferences as given. Thelen and Steinmo noted in their introduction to </p><p>Structuring Politics that one, perhaps the, core difference between rational choice </p><p>institutionalism and historical institutionalism lies in the question of preference </p><p>formation (1992, 9, original emphasis). They argued that individual preferences are not </p><p>given and constant, but endogenous to historical processes that distribute resources and </p><p>structure power through institutions. Thelen and Steinmo further argued that if </p><p> 2 Steinmo and Thelen note that they borrow the term historical institutionalism </p><p>from Theda Skocpol, to distinguish this variant of institutionalism from the alternative, rational choice variant (1992, 28, n. 4). Steinmo dates the actual coining of historical institutionalism to 1989: The term came out of a small workshop held in Boulder, Colorado in January 1989 (2008, 136, n. 1). </p></li><li><p> 7 </p><p>institutions could strengthen, weaken, or transform individuals preferences and goals, </p><p>they could also alter the structure of political coalitions with potentially significant effects </p><p>for policy outcomes. In other words, articulating what role institutions had in shaping </p><p>preferences held promise for answering why particular political coalitions formed, when </p><p>these would change and why, and how the behavior of coalition members would impact </p><p>changes or continuities in institutions themselves over time. </p><p>Skeptical of behavioral and pluralist models which assumed that government </p><p>choices reflected general population-wide preferences in relatively consistent fashion </p><p>across institutionally diverse contexts, historical institutionalists gave particular attention </p><p>to organizations. Industry, bank, and employers associations, unions, environmental and </p><p>other advocacy networks, as well as administrative bureaus of the state, were highlighted </p><p>for their role in representing and mobilizing support for particular and particularistic </p><p>policy preferences. In a spirited defense of a focus on organizations as structures that </p><p>aggregate the endeavor of many individuals, Peter Hall also stressed their importance </p><p>as suppliers of information and vendors of interpretation, their role in the implementation </p><p>of public policy, as well as their potential role in ultimately alter[ing] the preferences of </p><p>distinct groups (1986, 233). Organizations themselves were therefore studied as they </p><p>were embedded within formal institutions, principally political and economic ones, for as </p><p>Steinmo (1989, 502) noted: [n]either interests nor value have substantive meaning if </p><p>abstracted from the institutional context in which humans define them. </p><p>In theorizing the origin of preferences, a group of historical institutionalists </p><p>highlighted the generative role of ideas in shaping interests and goals. In their </p><p>contributions to Structuring Politics, Peter Hall, Desmond King, and Margaret Weir </p></li><li><p> 8 </p><p>explored the intersection of ideas and institutions, and identified conditions under which </p><p>new and old, local and international ideas were reflected in the policy and institutional </p><p>choices of countries. Pointing to the role of ideas in shaping institutions and interests, this </p><p>literature grew quickly as studies addressed long-standing puzzles in Political Science, </p><p>such as why common founding myths of citizenship generated diverse identities (Smith </p><p>1997), why economic openness persisted despite demands for closure (Goldstein 1994), </p><p>and why states extended significant governing authority to international organizations </p><p>(Ikenberry 1992).3 </p><p>A Conceptual Core </p><p>As historical institutionalists re-conceptualized the process of preference </p><p>formation with reference to institutional contexts and stressed the role of organizations </p><p>and ideas in shaping interests and coalitions, they developed a theoretical and </p><p>methodological toolkit to study temporal effects in politics. Whereas this toolkit for the </p><p>study of diachronic processes is large, we focus here on critical junctures, path </p><p>dependence, intercurrence, and modes of gradual institutional change as four analytically </p><p>related concepts that provide a window into how historical institutionalists understand the </p><p>causal mechanisms behind patters of institutional creation, reproduction, and, more </p><p>recently, change. </p><p> 3 S...</p></li></ul>


View more >