The Oxford Handbook of Political Institutions
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that informagents\u2019 responses tomoments of uncertainty and crisis\u2019\u2019 (2002, 251). This is a bold and almost certainly overstated claim. For, rather than demonstrating that structural prerequisites cannot inform a credible account of institutional change, constructivist institutionalism is perhaps better seen as dem- onstrating that alternative and compelling accounts can be constructed that do not restrict themselves to such material factors. Moreover, Blyth here seems to drive something of awedge between the consideration of ideational andmaterial factors in causal analysis. This is unfortunate, because as he at times seems quite happy to concede, there are almost certainly (some) material conditions of existence of ascendant crisis narratives and crises themselves would seem to have both material and ideational determinants. Ideational factors certainly need to be given greater attention, but surely not at the expense of all other variables. 4 Conclusion ......................................................................................................................................................................................... As the above paragraphs hopefully suggest, whilst constructivist institutionalism has much to contribute to the analysis and, above all, the explanation of complex institutional change, it is still very much a work in progress. Its particular appeal resides in its ability to interrogate and open up the often acknowledged and yet rarely explored question of institutional dynamics under disequilibrium condi- tions. As a consequence of this focus, it has already gone some way to overcoming the new institutionalism\u2019s characteristic failure to deal adequately with post- formative institutional change and its tendency to Wnd it rather easier to describe (and, even more so, to explain) path-dependent as opposed to path-shaping logics. Yet, in so doing, it has stumbled over other problems. In particular, it seems unclear whether constructivist institutionalists are prepared to abandon altogether the long association of interests and material factors in political analysis that they ostensibly challenge. Similarly, the extent to which constructivist institutionalism entails the substitution of material by ideational explanations, the development of explan- ations which dissolve the dualistic distinction between the two, or merely the addition of ideational variables to pre-existing material accounts remains unclear. 72 colin hay Finally, there is still something of a tension it seems between the assuredness and conWdence with which the superiority of constructivist institutionalist insights are proclaimed and the theoretical modesty that a constructivist ontology and episte- mology would seem almost naturally to entail. None of these are fundamental impediments to the development of a fourth new institutionalism alongside the others; but theydo provide a sense of the debates thatmust, and are likely to, animate the constructivist institutionalist research programme over the next decade. References Abdelal, R., Blyth, M., and Parsons, C. 2006. 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