Carter, Caitriona A. (2003) "Redefining positive integration: A critical application of historical institutionalism to the 'open method' of co-ordination”. In: UNSPECIFIED, Nashville, TN. (Unpublished)
This paper critically examines core claims made within historical institutionalism (HI) by applying a multi-dimensional model of institutional change to a case study. In so doing, the notion of 'positive' European integration is redefined. The case study chosen is the recently inaugurated "open method" of European Union (EU) social policy co¬ordination, which arguable gives rise to a distinctive effect of positive integration. First, the application of an HI model enables us to measure the degree of institutional change occurring and, in particular, to evaluate "critical junctures" of significant institutional transformation at EU level. Second, I illustrate how the HI model posits a relationship between the dynamism of multi-dimensional institutional change, and the related degree of EU social policy convergence. Third, I argue that by refining claims made within HI on the relation of ideational order to processes of institutional change, we can develop a conceptual framework for evaluating the impact of "policy paradigm" shifts on institutional change over time. In conclusion, I suggest that by re-examining processes of change using this framework, we can advance alternative ways of investigating positive integration and, in so doing, redefine its character.
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