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Tempo Social

Print version ISSN 0103-2070On-line version ISSN 1809-4554


TAPIA, Jorge R. B.  and  GOMES, Eduardo R.. Ideas, interests and institutional changes. Tempo soc. [online]. 2008, vol.20, n.1, pp.239-264. ISSN 0103-2070.

This article discusses the relations between institutions, interests and ideas, taking as its reference point experiences in social concertation in Europe and welfare system reforms in Latin America in the 1990s. Recognizing that the current debate over these reforms has incorporated the importance of the cognitive dimension of political processes as a way of building more complex and adequate approaches to the phenomena in question, we take a different approach to previous analyses, arguing that the emphasis given up to now to the role of ideas is insufficient to explain either the nature and diffusion of the processes of economic and social reforms, or their legitimacy and political support. The process of adopting ideas has to produce results that are positively assessed and offer answers - whether consensual or not - to questions deemed central to the public agenda. In addition, there is also a complex process of policy learning and mimicking that allows for better understanding of complex developments, expressing the fact that these elements cannot be left out of the explanations, since they may add new dimensions to studies of economic and social reforms inspired by the role of institutions or by political competition.

Keywords : Neoinstitutionalism; Ideas; Interests; Political learning; Social concertation.

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