Institutionalism in international relations

Institutionalism in international relations

Institutionalism in international relations holds that the international system is not—in practice—anarchic, but that it has an implicit or explicit structure which determines how states will act within the system.

Institutions are rules that determine the decision-making process. In the international arena, institution has been used interchangeably with 'regime', which has been defined by Krasner as a set of explicit or implicit "principles, norms, rules, and decision-making procedures around which actors expectations converge in a given issue-area."

Institutionalist scholars hold a wide array of beliefs stemming from the central proposition that institutions "matter" in answering the question "what explains a particular outcome?". There are four reasons for this:
*They structure choices
*They provide incentives
*They distribute power
*They define identities and roles

Rational choice institutionalism

This school attempts to explain collective choices by rational actors. Outcomes are a product of the interaction between actor preferences "and" institutional rules.

Rational institutionalists also regard institutions as themselves being rationally chosen by actors who view the rules as facilitating the pursuit of their goals. For example, the institutional decision-making rules of the European Union are such that the largest states can structure political outcomes.

Historical institutionalism

The historical institutionalism school believes that institutional factors account for differences in cross-national political outcomes. There are two elements:

#Institutions could shape actor preferences by structuring incentives, redistributing power, and by influencing the cultural context.
#History is "path dependent." Choices or events early in the process can force a path from which it becomes increasing difficult to deviate.

Skocpol's work illustrates an example of historical institutionalism. Responses to the Great Depression of the 1930s differed greatly between Sweden and the United Kingdom, which had similar problems in terms of severity and duration. The two countries responded with vastly differ policies due to differences in existing domestic institutional structures.

Related theories


Neorealism, or structural realism, is a theory of international relations, outlined by Kenneth Waltz in his 1979 book, "Theory of International Politics". Waltz argues in favor of a systemic realist approach: the international structure acts as a constraint on state behavior, so that different states behave in a similar rational manner, and outcomes fall within an expected range.


Neoliberalism refers to a school of thought which believes that nation-states are, or at least should be, concerned first and foremost with absolute gains (economic, strategic, etc.), rather than relative gains to other nation-states. Since their approach tends to emphasize the possibility of mutual wins, they are interested in institutions which can arrange jointly profitable arrangements and compromises.

ee also

*International relations theory

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Нужно решить контрольную?

Look at other dictionaries:

  • International relations theory — attempts to provide a conceptual model upon which international relations can be analyzed. Each theory is reductive and essentialist to different degrees, relying on different sets of assumptions respectively. As Ole Holsti describes them,… …   Wikipedia

  • Neoliberalism in international relations — In the study of international relations, neoliberalism refers to a school of thought which believes that nation states are, or at least should be, concerned first and foremost with absolute gains rather than relative gains to other nation states …   Wikipedia

  • International relations — See also: Foreign affairs Part of the Politics series Politics …   Wikipedia

  • Constructivism (international relations) — International relations theory  • Idealism  Liberalism   …   Wikipedia

  • Great Debates (international relations theory) — In international relations theory, the Great Debates refer to a series of disagreements between international relations scholars.[1] Ashworth describes how the discipline of international relations has been heavily influenced by historical… …   Wikipedia

  • Institutionalism — can refer to: Old Institutionalism: An approach to the study of politics that focuses on formal institutions of government New institutionalism: a social theory that focuses on developing a sociological view of institutions, the way they interact …   Wikipedia

  • Liberal international relations theory — Liberalism holds that state preferences, rather than state capabilities, are the primary determinant of state behavior. Unlike realism where the state is seen as a unitary actor, liberalism allows for plurality in state actions. Thus, preferences …   Wikipedia

  • Critical international relations theory — is a diverse set of schools of thought in International Relations (IR) that have criticized the theoretical, meta theoretical and/or political status quo, both in IR theory and in international politics more broadly from positivist as well as… …   Wikipedia

  • Neorealism (international relations) — Neorealism or structural realism is a theory of international relations, outlined by Kenneth Waltz in his 1979 book Theory of International Politics. Waltz argues in favor of a systemic approach: the international structure acts as a constraint… …   Wikipedia

  • Classical realism in international relations theory — Classical realism is a school of thought in international relations theory associated with thinkers such as Machiavelli and Hobbes.[1] References ^ Jackson, Robert, Sorensen, Georg, Introduction to International Relations: Theories and Approaches …   Wikipedia

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”