Political Theory

Ideas and Interests in Institutional Change


The effective construction of social institutions, be they political or economic, has long been an important topic of scholarly study. One can easily see the important influence that different political institutions have on the types of policies and politics that states pursue since the dawn of human history.  Institutions emerge in a social context and evolve slowly as circumstances change. Douglas North’s Nobel Prize–winning work on the importance of economic institutions focused not only on why there was stability, a necessary component of any institution, but also why some institutions changed. How then do ideas, circumstances, and shocks prompt societies to re-evaluate and update their institutions?


Conference Readings

Acemoglu, Daron, Johnson, Simon, and Robinson, “Institutions as the Fundamental Cause of Long-run Growth” In Handbook of Economic Growth, edited by Aghion, Philippe and Durlauf, 385-396. Amsterdam: Elsevier, 2005.

Anderson, Gary M. and Tollison, Robert D.. “Ideology, Interest Groups, and the Repeal of the Corn Laws.” Journal of Institutional and Theoretical Economics 141, no. 2 (1985): 199-215.

Blyth, Mark. Great Transformations: Economics Ideas and Institutional Change in the Twentieth Century. Cambridge: University Press, 2002.

Buchanan, James M. “Afraid to be free: Dependency as desideratum.” Public Choice 124 (2005): 19-31.

Buchanan, James M. amd Vanberg, Viktor J.. The Economics and the Ethics of Constitutional Order. Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan Press, 1991.

Denzau, Arthur T.. “Shared Mental Models: Ideologies and Institutions.” Kyklos 47, no. 1 (1994): 3-31.

Hall, Peter A.. “Policy Paradigms, Social Learning, and the State: The Case of Economic Policymaking in Britain.” Comparative Politics 25, no. 3 (1993): 275-296.

Hayek, F. A. Law, Legislation and Liberty, Volume 1: Rules and Order [Phoenix series]. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1973.

Hayek, F. A. The Constitution of Liberty. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1978.

Irwin, Douglas. “Political Economy and Peel's Repeal of the Corn Laws.” Economics and Politics 1, no. 1 (1989): 41-59.

Knight, Jack. The Primary Importance of Distributional Conflict . Cambridge: University Press, 1992.

Lee, Dwight R.. “Politics, Ideology, and the Power of Public Choice.” Virginia Law Review 74, no. 2 (1988): 191-198.

North, Douglass C. Institutions, Institutional Change and Economic Performance. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1990.

Tollison, Robert D. and Wagner, Richard E.. “Romance, Realism, and Economic Reform.” Kyklos 44, no. 1 (1991): 57-70.