The dependency and contingency of politics: historical institutionalism and genealogy

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Abstract

Historical Institutionalism and genealogy are two strong analytical approaches that emphasise the importance of history in grasping contemporary politics that so far have lived in isolation from each other. This article, firstly, accounts for the similarities and differences between the two approaches with regard to their purpose, methodology and understanding of power and agency. Secondly, it discusses the analytical potentials and limitations of the two approaches, and the possibilities of mutual dialogue and inspiration. It is argued that the two approaches display a number of significant differences which make any analytical synthesis both a difficult and a questionable endeavour. In particular, whereas historical institutionalism seeks to explain the present in terms of its dependence on past events, genealogy seeks to provoke the present by demonstrating its historical contingency. In spite of these differences, the two approaches may benefit from engaging in analytical and methodological dialogue.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Political Power
Volume9
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)123-138
ISSN2158-3803
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2016

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