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36 Comp. Pol. Stud. 5 (2003)

handle is hein.journals/compls36 and id is 1 raw text is: 














Editors' Preface


T   here is a growing literature documenting the institutionalist turn in Euro-
    pean Union  (EU) studies. This work is exciting and innovative and has
done much  to relink the study of the EU to the broader disciplines. At the
same time, the three of us have shared a sense of frustration that the emerging
whole-a   better understanding of institutional dynamics in Europe and else-
where-was   less than the sum of the parts.
   In reviewing the literature, we saw divisions that were unnecessary, confu-
sion that could be clarified and meta-theoretical bloodletting that was both
needless and hindering scholarly progress. These facts led us to convene an
exploratory workshop at the University of Washington in March 2000. Our
initial hunch was that three divisions were motivating the debates among
institutionalists. The first was geographical: Over time, scholars in Europe
and the United States had come to approach the study of the EU in different
ways.  The  second  was  functional: Institutionalists drew on different
subfields-comparative   politics (CP) or international relations (IR)-
depending  on how  they had been trained. The third was social theoretic:
Scholars studying the EU could differ meaningfully depending on whether
their institutional assumptions were informed  more  by  economics  or
sociology.
   Although the first workshop was structured to highlight the role played by
all three divisions, it quickly became apparent that the first two-U.S. v.
European; CP  v. IR-were  more apparent than real. The more potent divide
was the third, social theoretic, one. Given this finding, we began to explore
ways in which this latter gap could be transcended.
   This exploration led to the present set of essays. We wanted to understand
better the putative  divide  separating  rationalist and sociological/
constructivist institutionalisms. Much more important, though, was a desire
to drive this debate down to empirical and operational levels, thus getting a
better sense of complementarities-as well as of continuing antagonisms-
between  these traditions. Exactly how can bridges be built between them?
What  are the limits of such exercises? What is the value added for under-
standing institutional dynamics within the EU?
   The articles in this special issue have been through a multistage review
process. Virtually all of them were first presented and critiqued at two work-

COMPARATIVE POLITICAL STUDIES, Vol. 36 No. 1/2, February/March 2003 5-6
DOI: 10.1177/0010414002239369
© 2003 Sage Publications
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