Abstract: The paper takes issue with two standard critiques of historical institutionalism: that it can only explain stability, not change, and that the focus should be on discursive path-dependency, not institutional path-dependency. In response to the initial critique, I argue, first, that it wrongly equates path-dependency with path- determinacy and, second, that the challenge can be addressed if we acknowledge that the relationship between institutions and ideas is a dialectical one, that is interactive and iterative. In response to the second critique, I argue that we should acknowledge that there are 3 path-dependencies: institutional; discursive; and political-economic. They interact and provide the context within which agents act; constraining and facilitating, but not determining, agents. These arguments will be illustrated by an examination of the role of the British Political Tradition in British politics.
You can find David Marsh’s published research on his Google Scholar page.