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Extra info for The European Union’s Mediterranean Policy: Model or Muddle?: A New Institutionalist Perspective

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36 The European Union’s Mediterranean Policy New institutionalism(s) and Euro-Mediterranean policies Clearly, the ontological, epistemological, methodological and thematic differences between these approaches are evident. The four main approaches outlined above may all be considered part of the evolving NI School of thought: HI, RCI, SI and CI. Yet, according to Schmidt (2008, 2010), SI/RCI and HI belong to the first wave of NI since the recent development of CI as a fourth variant does not only entail in itself a critique of the previous approaches, but it is also characterized by a completely different ontological and epistemological setting (Schmidt 2008; Hay 2006).

60). The HI variant might claim that it actually deals with such questions given the scope of its study. Nonetheless, its focal point of analysis emphasizes the persistence of institutional inertia and the conditions under which it can change. In this regard, RCI’s treatment of fundamental initial moments has largely been dubbed descriptive as 28 The European Union’s Mediterranean Policy it informs us about the genesis process, without any analysis (Hay and Wincott 1998). In response, RCI soon adopted an increasing recognition that the common knowledge that shapes an actor’s interaction with institutions might very well be culturally constructed (Laitin 1998).

657). Paul Pierson argues, ‘the probability of further steps along the same path increases with each move down that path’ (2000b, p. 252). The essence of the HI argument is then that the benefits of maintaining the status quo are self-reinforcing and increase with time as they uphold the system. HI does also, however, acknowledge the role of ideas in political outcomes (Hall & Taylor 1996). The role of ideas is, in fact, paramount to explaining the origin of institutions and ‘[i]t can be argued that when an idea becomes accepted and is embodied into a structural form then the institution has been created’ (Peters 2005, p.

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