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ISSN 1813-6826      

EUROGOV No. N-05-01
Sabina Avdagic, Martin Rhodes and Jelle Visser

The Emergence and Evolution of Social Pacts: A Provisional Framework for Comparative Analysis

Published: September 19, 2005


This paper provides the scientific framework for the NEWGOV project Distributive Politics, Learning and Reform. In Part I, we establish our own definition and conceptualization of social pacts. We distinguish four types of pacts with different scope and depth: shadow pacts, headline pacts, coordinated wage setting, and embedded pacts akin to neocorporatist concertation. Part II is concerned with institutional formation, i.e. how such social pacts come into existence. We outline some standard functionalist accounts of institutional emergence, and critically examine them before proposing an alternative bargaining model. Part III is concerned with institutional development, i.e. what determines the continuation and institutionalization of social pacts or their de-institutionalization and demise. Based on the taxonomy of social pacts presented in Part I, we define two alternative evolutionary paths for social pacts (institutionalization and de-institutionalization), and identify three types of trajectory along which social pacts develop (repetition vs. abandonment; integration vs. disintegration; and expansion vs. reduction). We then outline four alternative mechanisms that may potentially drive the institutionalization or de-institutionalization of pacts. Grounded in the four major approaches for analysing institutions, i.e. the functionalist, utilitarian, normative, and power-distributional perspectives, this section proposes four groups of hypotheses to be evaluated in our empirical research.

Keywords: comparative public policy, political economy, sociological institutionalism, corporatism, policy learning, policy networks, organization theory, interest intermediation

Sabina Avdagic – European University Institute and Max-Planck Institute for the Study of Societies, Cologne
Martin Rhodes – European University Institute
Jelle Visser – Department of Sociology and Anthropology, University of Amsterdam

© 2005 Sabina Avdagic, Martin Rhodes and Jelle Visser

Citing this EUROGOV paper:
Avdagic, Sabina, Martin Rhodes and Jelle Visser. 2005. The Emergence and Evolution of Social Pacts: A Provisional Framework for Comparative Analysis. European Governance Papers (EUROGOV) No. N-05-01,

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