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Schmidt, Vivien A. (2008)
Types: Article
The newest new institutionalism, discursive institutionalism, lends insight into the role of ideas and discourse in politics while providing a more dynamic approach to institutional change than the older three new institutionalisms. Ideas are the substantive content of discourse. They exist at three levels - policies, programs, and philosophies - and can be categorized into two types, cognitive and normative. Discourse is the interactive process of conveying ideas. It comes in two forms: the coordinative discourse among policy actors and the communicative discourse between political actors and the public. These forms differ in two formal institutional contexts; simple polities have a stronger communicative discourse and compound polities a stronger coordinative discourse. The institutions of discursive institutionalism, moreover, are not external-rule-following structures but rather are simultaneously structures and constructs internal to agents whose "background ideational abilities" within a given "meaning context" explain how institutions are created and exist and whose foreground discursive abilities, following a logic of communication, explain how institutions change or persist. Interests are subjective ideas, which, though real, are neither objective nor material. Norms are dynamic, intersubjective constructs rather than static structures.
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