Institutional theory is an important part of political science

  • Book review

This is in continuation of our last entry on the subject of institutional theory, while referring to the book, “Institutional Theory in Political Science” By B.GUY Peters. The following details about the institutions would be beneficial to the students of political science:

Institutional Theories often have historical background

  • Changing of institutions

Author here emphasizes the theory of ‘Garbage Can’ ( Cohen, March and Olsen, 1972).The author further observes that the ‘garbage can ‘ approach  visualizes the solutions for the problems that are not solvable within the set parameters of the routines and rules of an institution. Describing the logic of change, within the institutional theory, the author further says that change is not an event which can be planned, but it is a resultant product of the mixture of several activities and opportunities for action within an institution.

  • Interaction of individuals and institution

The author maintains the need is to have a mechanism in operation, by which the institution can shape the behavior of individuals. Similarly, such mechanism should provide the way for the individuals to form and reform an institution. Author further strongly opines that without this institutions will remain as abstract bodies only, having little relation with the political behavior. Hence, this interaction, as per the author, is bi-directional.

The author further cites writers like Giddens(1981,84) and Swells(1992) who have argued that these relations are dual meaning and there is reciprocal of individual upon institution and vice-versa. Analyzing this further, the author mentions that this in fact implies that the individuals and institutions are two basic components of social theory, which links individuals with more formal elements of social life and in turn, the institutions cannot escape such linkages.

Discussing Institutional Theory

Author has defined the logic of appropriateness, relevant to the institutional theory, while dealing with the subject of individual’s relation to an institution. He has given an example of the market where traders being the members of the market body cannot break the rules framed by the body / institution. In case they do so, they will loose the membership of the market and opportunity to trade further. Author also cites an example of a member of parliament risking the action of the whip, in case he or she violates the norms of the party loyalty.

Apart from the above, readers should go through other publications for understanding the types of political and social institutions, while analyzing the need for establishing the same. As reasons for formation of such institutions are linked to their function and goals, students of political science would do well by comparing the similar systems prevailing in different countries, or, societies.

We will endeavor to bring more info-tips on the institutional theory, in the forthcoming entries. However, students should analyze the book for better understanding of this subject. Meanwhile, they can go through other topics to gain knowledge on varied issues.

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