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The Difference Between an Analytical Framework and a Theoretical Claim: A Reply to Martin Carstensen



Martin Carstensen's recent article is a novel attempt to contribute a theory of incremental ideational change to the relevant discourse and institutionalist literatures. Noticing a potentially problematic twin focus on stable ideas and punctuated equilibrium, Carstensen outlines an alternative framework capable of capturing the true dynamism of political ideas. However, his article and analysis are based on the problematic assumption that analytical frameworks, such as historical institutionalism, make theoretical claims about politics, when instead their purpose is to create an underpinning prism for the construction of explanations. By ignoring this important yet subtle distinction, I claim, Carstensen creates a set of criteria for adjudicating the value of analytical frameworks that is both unfair and potentially inappropriate.