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Revista de Sociologia e Política

On-line version ISSN 1678-9873


REZENDE, Flávio da Cunha. Convergence and controversy on institutional change: traditional models in comparative perspective. Rev. Sociol. Polit. [online]. 2012, vol.20, n.41, pp.37-51. ISSN 1678-9873.

At present there is a paucity of work that seeks to clarify what a neo-institutional theory of change is and what the fundamental elements to compare, evaluate and construct such a theory would be. The present paper proposes reflections on this issue. We carry out comparative analysis of four neoinstitutionalist theories of social change. We present points of convergence and controversy regarding the problem of endogeneity, the role of formal and informal institutions, typical explanatory patterns, causal mechanisms and the causal modes that typify different neo-institutional models. Our main goal is to understand how these four traditional approaches to change respond to the challenge to explain processes of institutional change starting from institutions themselves. The study goes beyond a simple comparative analysis of theories and seeks to offer, in a preliminary sense, a method for the analysis of theory that makes it possible to explore the essential dimensions of available approaches to institutional change through the new institutionalism. What are the constitutive elements that make up an institutional theory per se? The method we use is constructed starting from the problems that are considered fundamental in the advancement of an institutional theory. For these purposes, we suggest that the one of the initial steps in the construction of theories of institutional change can be seen as associated with the growth of a demand for comparative analysis of theories, in the sense of a closer understanding of the problems entailed and refinement needed for the building such theories.

Keywords : New Institutionalism; Institutional Change; Comparative Theories; Social Science; Political Science.

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