This article aims to show the crucial role that ideas play in institutional change, the formation of public policies, and actors’ grouping and orientation. These scenarios involve processes of creation of ideas and discourses, of disputes over the solution to problems and the legitimation or not of decisions. The role of ideas depends on our conception of their relationships with institutions, interests, and actors, and of the determinants of the changes we appreciate. The assumption promoted by rational choice that they are instrumental means of interests limits the understanding of the complexity of political processes. To vindicate the role of ideas, the article analyzes: various schools and authors based on the conceptual tension between interest and institutions; the relationship between ideas, political changes, and coalitions; and the role of discourse concerning them.
ideas; discourse; institutions; social learning; coalitions