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Roles, Rules, and Rationality in the New Institutionalism

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  01 August 2014

Donald D. Searing
University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill


I seek to reinvigorate the study of politicians' roles by showing how motivational role theory can be used to examine the impact of goals and incentives upon behavior and thereby integrate economic and sociological perspectives. I address three reasons for the recent neglect of politicians' roles—changes in interdisciplinary tastes, conceptual and theoretical muddles, and failures to demonstrate consequences for behavior—and find them unconvincing. I further argue that the most promising framework for the new institutionalism is one that incorporates not just formal but also informal institutional structures (like roles and norms), a framework that incorporates, rather than excludes, political behavior.

Copyright © American Political Science Association 1991

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