The Relevance of an Incremental Approach to Ideational Change: A Rejoinder to Liam Stanley



This rejoinder takes issue with two criticisms of my Political Studies article on incremental ideational change presented in a recent reply by Liam Stanley. It argues that by presenting my critique of historical and discursive institutionalism as focused on the lack of ‘realism’ in their standard conceptualisation of ideas, Stanley creates a straw man. Instead, my criticism aims at the analytical outcomes of the mainstream understanding of ideas as generally coherent and stable, an approach to ontological criticism that Stanley explicitly approves of. Second, using examples from recent analyses of the financial crisis, I try to show the relevance of an ontology conducive to theories that capture and explain incremental ideational change. I also defend an eclectic approach to theory building that is focused less on policing the boundaries of different approaches and more on building consistent theoretical approaches from multiple social scientific traditions.