A Critical Analysis of
The New Institutionalisms
CCOP Working Paper #1999-01
"New Institutional" theories have proliferated across
the social sciences. While they have substantial disagreements,
they agree that institutions are created to produce local social
orders, are social constructions, fundamentally about how powerful
groups create rules of interaction and maintain unequal resource
distributions, and yet, once in existence, both constrain and enable
actors in subsequent institution building. I present a critique
of these theories that focuses on their inadequate attention to
the role of social power and actors in the creation of institutions.
An alternative view of the dynamics of institutions is sketched
out based on a more sociological conception of rules, resources,
and social skill.