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Advanced Introduction to Theories in the Social Sciences II: Theories of Institutional Change and Stability


Wednesday, 6 November 2019 to Wednesday, 18 December 2019
Total hours: 20
Hours of lectures: 20

Examination procedure

  • Written test


Compulsory for the 1st year students of the PhD Programme in "Political Science and Sociology"

Compulsory for the 1st year students of the PhD Programme in "Transnational Governance"

Optional for the 4th and 5th year students of the MA Programme in "Political and Social Sciences"


Questions of policy and institutional change have long occupied economists, political scientists and sociologists. The purpose of this course is to examine several explanations of change in the social sciences with particular attention to the mechanisms through which institutions evolve over time. Classes are loosely organized around the three main strands of institutional analysis, namely rational choice institutionalism, sociological institutionalism, and historical institutionalism. In addition, we will use scholarship on contemporary puzzles to examine how and the extent to which these alternative theories have been combined to provide thorough accounts of political behavior and of policy and institutional change.  
Course format
The course is articulated into seven seminars according to the timetable provided below. For each of the meeting, students are required to adopt a pro-active stance based on the reading of all the articles in the reading list. In particular, students are invited to discuss and reflect on the core theoretical assumptions that underpin distinct theories of (and approaches to) institutional change as well as on the relative strengths and weaknesses of each theories with respect to their empirical applications. Further details on class format and expectations will be provided during the first meeting.