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Implications from the Disequilibrium of Majority Rule for the Study of Institutions

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  • Riker, William H.

Abstract

While contemporary political science (as, for example, in such subjects as political socialization, studies of public opinion, etc.) tends to emphasize the study of values and tastes (because of an assumption that political outcomes–like market outcomes–are determined by the amalgamation of individual preferences), the older tradition of political science emphasized the study of institutions. The line of research in political theory followed during the last generation has involved seeking an equilibrium of tastes; but it has revealed that such an equilibrium exists only rarely, if at all. The inference then is that prudence in research directs the science of politics toward the investigation of empirical regularities in institutions, which, though congealed tastes, are “unstable constants†amenable to scientific investigation.

Suggested Citation

  • Riker, William H., 1980. "Implications from the Disequilibrium of Majority Rule for the Study of Institutions," American Political Science Review, Cambridge University Press, vol. 74(2), pages 432-446, June.
  • Handle: RePEc:cup:apsrev:v:74:y:1980:i:02:p:432-446_16
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