Chapter

Ideas and the Construction of Interests

Colin Hay

in Ideas and Politics in Social Science Research

Published in print December 2010 | ISBN: 9780199736430
Published online January 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780199866106 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199736430.003.0004
Ideas and the Construction of Interests

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This chapter focuses on the ontological, analytical, and methodological distinctiveness of constructivist institutionalism, assessing the challenge it poses to those institutionalisms in whose paths it follows. The chapter proceeds in three sections. The first section discusses how constructivist institutionalism arose in response to problems of change in much of the previous institutionalist scholarship. The second section considers the ontological and analytical distinctiveness of constructivist institutionalism's turn to ideas. The third and concluding section cautions those who would adopt a constructivist approach against falling back on an essentially materialist conception of self-interest, documenting the potential pitfalls of such a move. It argues that a genuinely constructivist perspective must see interests as social constructions, rather than as materially given.

Keywords: constructivist institutionalism; constructivism; institutionalist research; self-interest

Chapter.  8107 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Comparative Politics

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