The Limits of Pragmatism in Institutional Change
Modern politics in Western democracies is to a large extent characterized by political pragmatism, a position where feasible, incremental, and more or less technocratic improvements of the status quo are advocated. While such a position has some advantages, i.e. safeguarding against false ideologies and bad radical reforms as well as more populist policies, this paper argues that there are limits to pragmatism in “welfare-enhancing” institutional change. Pragmatism cannot deal with situations where a whole interpretative framework needs to be changed in order to achieve beneficial institutional change. The status quo may be highly inefficient and still cannot be improved by marginal adjustments due to outdated or false mental frameworks, special interests and institutional lock-in. In such situations an ideological shift may be a prerequisite for higher efficiency and welfare. A position that may combine the strengths in each of the perspectives may be called “principled pragmatism”.
|Date of creation:||12 Nov 2012|
|Contact details of provider:|| Postal: The Ratio Institute, P.O. Box 5095, SE-102 42 Stockholm, Sweden|
Phone: 08-441 59 00
Fax: 08-441 59 29
Web page: http://www.ratio.se/
More information through EDIRC
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
- Denzau, Arthur T & North, Douglass C, 1994.
"Shared Mental Models: Ideologies and Institutions,"
Wiley Blackwell, vol. 47(1), pages 3-31.
- Arthur T. Denzau & Douglass C. North, 1993. "Shared Mental Models: Ideologies and Institutions," Economic History 9309003, EconWPA.
- Breyer, Friedrich & Craig, Ben, 1997. "Voting on social security: Evidence from OECD countries," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 13(4), pages 705-724, December.
- Friedrich Breyer & Ben R. Craig, 1995. "Voting on social security: evidence from OECD countries," Working Paper 9511, Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland.
- Dani Rodrik, 1996. "Understanding Economic Policy Reform," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 34(1), pages 9-41, March.
- Viktor Vanberg & James M. Buchanan, 1989. "Interests and Theories in Constitutional Choice," Journal of Theoretical Politics, , vol. 1(1), pages 49-62, January.
- Dexter, Lewis Anthony, 1981. "Undesigned Consequences of Purposive Legislative Action: Alternatives to Implementation," Journal of Public Policy, Cambridge University Press, vol. 1(04), pages 413-431, October. Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)
When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:hhs:ratioi:0194. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.
For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Martin Korpi)
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.