Path dependence and gradual change : Exploring the relationship between formal and informal institutional change in the European Parliament
This thesis addresses the relationship between formal and informal institutions in the European Parliament from a new institutionalist perspective. This is done in order to fulfill the aims of the thesis, which are: (1) to broaden our understanding of informal institutions and institutional change in the EP as well as (2) develop our understanding of the new institutionalist approaches: rational choice institutionalism, sociological institutionalism and historical institutionalism. The method of analysis is qualitative and the main material consists of 14 interviews with Swedish members and former members of the 4th to the 7th EP. The empirical investigation shows that the EP should be interpreted as institutionalized, but some informal institutional changes have, however, occurred due to changes in formal institutions. The enlargements and treaty changes have changed not only how the parliamentarians work in informal network, but also the internal selection procedures of the rapporteur and the internal view on the EP versus the European Commission and the Council of Ministers. The two central claims of this thesis are: (1) that new institutionalist approaches go well together and should be used parallel in order to get a comprehensive understanding of political phenomena and, (2) that the EP is characterized both by institutionalization and informal institutional changes and that these interplay with each other.
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