Showing the path to path dependence: the habitual path
European Political Science Review
Cambridge University Press
221 - 242
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This article investigates the conceptual and theoretical implications of the logic of habit for the path-dependence approach. In the existing literature, we see two different logics of action associated with two distinct models of path dependence: the logic of consequences (instrumental rationality) is linked with utilitarian paths (i.e. increasing returns) and the logic of appropriateness (normative rationality) constitutes normative paths (normative lock-in). However, this study suggests that despite its popularity, the path-dependence approach remains underspecified owing to its exclusion or neglect of the logic of habit, which constitutes a distinct mechanism of reproduction or self-reinforcement in the institutional world. This article, therefore, introduces the notion of the 'habitual path' as a different model of path dependence. Although the idea of the habitual path is complementary with the existing models, owing to its distinctive notions of agency and mechanisms of path reproduction, it offers a different interpretation of continuity or regularity. Thus, by enriching the path-dependence approach, the notion of the habitual path would contribute to our comprehension of continuities and discontinuities in the political world. © 2014 European Consortium for Political Research.