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3 CES Open Forum Series

Analyzing Ideas and Tracing Discursive Interactions in Institutional Change: From Historical Institutionalism to Discursive Institutionalism


Comparative political economists who use historical institutionalism have made great contributions in describing what happened in cases of political economic change in advanced industrialized democracies, but they have great difficulty explaining much of why this happened. This paper argues that a discursive institutionalist analytic framework helps to explain why, and it will show how by offering methodological guidelines for the analysis of ideas and discourse in action. It will focus on such issues as the timing and content of change, both revolutionary and evolutionary; the agents and context of change through their articulation of ideas in discursive interactions in both the meaning-based frameworks of communication and the structural frameworks elucidated by historical institutionalists. The paper illustrates throughout with examples from the historical and discursive institutionalist literatures on national capitalisms and welfare states.