a1 University of California, Santa Barbara
How do “ideas” help to account for political outcomes? The age-old question of the role of ideas has been given new life recently, partly in response to the imposing structure of theory that has been built around economic or rational choice explanations, with their emphasis on interests and material circumstances rather than ideas. Few outside of the most abstract economic model-builders hold that ideas have no impact on policies, but there is little agreement on how that impact occurs or on the observable criteria that would establish (or contradict) the impact of ideas.
1. For their helpful comments on earlier versions of this paper, the authors wish to thank Lorraine M. McDonnell, Paul J. Quirk, and several anonymous reviewers.