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Lise Rakner and Vicky Randall

This chapter examines the role of institutions and how institutionalism is applied in the analysis of politics in the developing world. It begins with a discussion of three main strands of institutionalism: sociological institutionalism, rational choice institutionalism, and historical institutionalism. It then considers political institutions in developing countries as well as the interrelationship between formal and informal institutions. Three cases are presented: the case from sub-Saharan Africa illustrates the salience of neo-patrimonial politics and competing informal and formal institutions, the second case relates to campaign clientelism in Peru and the third is concerned with electoral quotas in India. The chapter concludes by addressing the question of the extent to which the new institutionalism is an appropriate tool of analysis for developing countries.

Chapter

This chapter focuses on the distinctions between historical research and social scientific research, and how these are being challenged by scholars in pursuit of a genuinely ‘historical social science’. It begins with a discussion of historical approaches in Politics and International Relations, including historical events research, historical process research, and cross-sectional comparative research. It then examines three approaches for addressing temporality as the sequential active unfolding of social action and events: historical institutionalism, process tracing, and event structure analysis. It also explains how to locate essential historical information and evaluate various types of sources, and what special considerations need to be made in using documents, archival sources, and historical writing as data in historical research.

Chapter

The European Union (EU) is without question the most densely institutionalized international organization in the world, and the body of literature known under the rubric of ‘the new institutionalism’ has been applied with increasing success to the study of the Union as a polity and to European integration as a process. This chapter examines rational choice and historical institutionalism and their contributions to EU studies. Following a brief introduction, it traces the origins of rational choice and historical institutionalism, both of which explore the role of institutions in political life, albeit with different emphases. Next, it turns to the EU, exploring the ways in which scholars have drawn on institutionalist theories to understand and explain the legislative, executive, and judicial politics of the EU, as well as the development of EU institutions and policies over time. An in-depth case study applies institutionalist theory to the task of explaining the origins of the Eurozone sovereign debt crisis as well as the EU’s response. Historical institutionalist theory, the author suggests, generates important insights into the suboptimal design of the original Maastricht EMU provisions, as well as the EU’s incremental response and the suboptimal outcome of the crisis. The author concludes by suggesting that institutionalist theories offer a variety of valuable insights into the design, effects, and development of EU institutions, while at the same time remaining compatible with other theoretical approaches in the EU scholar’s toolkit.

Chapter

This chapter examines how the European Central Bank (ECB) has taken on new and controversial roles in relation to crisis management and financial supervision in the wake of the eurozone crisis. It also considers how the ECB’s transformation has encouraged a new wave of institutional theorizing about the Bank, placing emphasis, among other things, on the importance of credible commitments, path-dependence, strategic discourse, and the changing politics of European integration. The chapter first provides an overview of the ECB’s mandate and tasks before discussing its decision-making bodies. It then describes the ECB’s institutional design as well as its response to the euro crisis, along with various theories that explain the crisis, including historical institutionalism and the rational choice institutionalist perspective. The chapter concludes by assessing concerns about the ECB’s legitimacy.