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Multi-causal, multi-theoretical explanations to policy change

Last class, I asked you whether you could think of any situation in which only rational choice were the only explanatory variable. One of your colleagues asked me if there was any case of policy evolution where we could ONLY attribute the change using rational choice theory and NOT neo-institutionalism. I was a bit stumped because I have evolved from being primarily a rational-choice theorist to placing more importance in institutions (thus becoming a neo-institutionalist). So it was hard for me to think of any potential case study where ONLY rational choice can be used to explain.

My research work has always involved multiple and very diverse theoretical frameworks to explain policy change. I think there is enormous value to use a variety of explanatory frameworks and explore the same policy issue through different theoretical lenses. Chris’ question made me think about a good exercise for next lecture. In next class we will explore one case through THREE theoretical frameworks (neo-institutionalism, rational choice and constructivism).

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