Ideas and Historical Institutionalism

Oddný Helgadóttir, Mark Blyth, William Kring

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This chapter traces the evolution of the ideational research agenda in historical institutionalism. The relationship between ideas as an analytical concept and historical institutionalism as a body of work has varied over time. While there was an opening to ideas in historical institutionalism in the mid- to late 1990s, less attention was paid to ideas as core analytic variables in the decades that followed. The chapter points to the materialist ontology employed by the majority of historical institutionalist scholars, their engagement with rational choice scholars, and the work of ideational scholars themselves as the major sources behind an ‘unconscious uncoupling’ between ideationalists and materialists within historical institutionalism. Following a network analysis of citation patterns, the chapter suggests that a ‘conscious re-coupling’ of ideational and institutional research agendas holds great promise for future historical institutional work.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationOxford Handbook of Historical Institutionalism
EditorsOrfeo Fioretos, Tulia G. Falleti, Adam Sheingate
Number of pages21
Place of PublicationOxford
PublisherOxford University Press
Publication date2016
ISBN (Print)9780199662814
ISBN (Electronic)9780198803102
Publication statusPublished - 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Ideas
  • Materialism
  • Institutions
  • Networks

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