This article explores the conflict between interpretivists and mainstream researchers about the purpose of research and the role of theory, method, and evidence in the context of the British central state. It locates this debate within the context of the vaunted transition from government to governance. Moreover, the recent ‘third wave’ governance-theoretic research is described and the six specific research agendas in this field are presented: power in policy-making networks, multi-level governance, core executive studies, prime ministerial power, central departments and the administrative/politics interface, and the central state beyond departments. Finally, it locates the study of the central state within a number of broader themes and issues. The ‘first-wave’ analysis of governance was initially developed without any reference to the interpretivist approach and still sets the broad framework for current research. The vibrant current ‘third-wave’ research on governance has contributed knowledge about important substantive topics.
Jamie L. Carson and Jason M. Roberts
Research on U.S. congressional elections has made remarkable progress in the past four decades. Scholars of congressional politics for years have studied elections in Congress and the Senate, focusing attention on questions ranging from incumbency advantage in Congress to why turnout voter is lower in midterm elections. However, there are still a number of unanswered questions concerning House and Senate elections. This article evaluates the state of research on U.S. House and Senate elections. It examines the central themes that have permeated the literature on congressional elections since the early 1970s. Prior to the 1970s, congressional elections were rarely mentioned in research on Congress. However, that trend changed dramatically when Mayhew noticed the decline in incumbent marginality in his research which examined House elections from 1956 to 1972. With the exponential growth on congressional elections scholarship, this article focuses on some of the more important questions in the field. It also discusses the implications for research on House and Senate elections.
B. Guy Peters
This article explores the role of institutional theory, and institutional analysis more broadly, in British political science. Institutional analysis presents some interesting paradoxes about examining and realizing British politics, and this article develops several of these and investigates their implications. It first considers the institutionalism as the root of British political analysis. Institutionalism helps explain how even individuals with strong political views appear to adapt those views to conform to institutional contexts. British political science may need to incorporate more dynamic elements into the study of institutions. The strong institutionalist strand in British political science may actually facilitate that integration. The use of institutional analysis shows some interesting paradoxes about the practice of governing in the United Kingdom, and also illuminates the theories that bring forth the paradoxes.
Parliamentary procedure is not only for anoraks: the fact that government itself seeks to adapt the rules of the parliamentary game more often than it seeks to flaunt them is indicative of their centrality to understanding what parliament is about and the nature of its relationship to the executive to which it plays host. The Westminster Model provides one of the most useful ways to contextualize the study of parliament. This model helps in the understanding on how power is legitimized. The fundamental role of parliament is as an institution of legitimation. One of the most significant parliamentary debates concerns the nature and meaning of Westminster's scrutiny of the executive. The idea of parliamentary sovereignty has always been coloured by the understanding of the practice of executive sovereignty, but the whole notion of sovereignty is being even more deeply questioned at the start of the twenty-first century.