- Hardcover: 224 pages
- Publisher: Pinter Publishers Ltd (September 1998)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1855674254
- ISBN-13: 978-1855674257
- Product Dimensions: 1 x 6.5 x 9.8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 1 customer review
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #12,597,099 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Institutional Theory in Political Science: The New Institutionalism
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About the Author
B. Guy Peters is Professor of Political Science at the University of Pittsburgh, USA. He is the author or editor of over 60 books in political science, and a founding editor of the European Political Science Review and of Governance. He has been a guest professor in universities in almost every country in Europe and a number in Latin America and Asia. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
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However, like all things transending through the ages, political science is not free from the powers of evolution. What was once a standard approach, institutionalism had become, to many social scientists, anachronistic by the post World War II years. The idea of comparing systems was replaced to a large part by social science exploring the influence of the individual and his behavior on politics. Fields such as behavioralism and rational choice theory replaced institutionalism as the back bone of social research.
In his work, Peters attempts to bring institutionalism back in to political science. Rather than simply attempt to force new situations into old paradigms, Peters explores four sub-genres of institutionalism, titling this approach "new institutionalism."
Peters main hypothesis, it seems, is to imply that strictly relying of the individual and his behavior does not make good political science. He argues that in order to understand political phenomenon, the social scientist must combine both the individual and the institution with which the individual is in contact. By exploring these to variables the social scientist will possess a more rounded understanding of the political process, and thus effective governance.
It becomes apparent while reading Peters' work that some new institutionalism paradigms are more effective in exploring political phenomenon than others. For example Peters readily admits that theories such as historical institutionalism and empirical institutionalism make the development of theory difficult (Peters 1999, 95, 76). And in the case of historical institutionalism, it is difficult to distinguish the approach from his proposed others.
Although I believe that Peters attempt to bring the institutional approach back into political science is not only valiant in the face of his numerous opponents, but also valuable. His chapter on the rational choice theory and institutionalism is profound and indeed should make researchers, especially in comparative politics, take notice. Furthermore, in the face of the next American election, Peters ideas on societal institutionalism will prove invaluable to researchers exploring the impact of interests groups on not only political parties (institution) but also on candidates themselves (individual).
I would like to see Peters refrain from spending so much effort in what I feel is weak justification for the historical and empirical approaches to institutionalism and provide a more thorough analysis of the societal, rational choice, sociological, and to a lesser degree the normative approaches. These theories provide a more practical and useful tool in the arsenal of the political scientist.