Theorizing ideas and discourse in political science: intersubjectivity, neo-institutionalisms, and the power of ideas
Schmidt, Vivien A.
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Citation (published version)Vivien A. Schmidt. 2017. "Theorizing Ideas and Discourse in Political Science: Intersubjectivity, Neo-Institutionalisms, and the Power of Ideas." Critical Review, Volume 29, Issue 2, pp. 248 - 263.
Oscar Larsson’s (2015) essay condemns discursive institutionalism for the “sin” of subjectivism. In reality, however, discursive institutionalism emphasizes the intersubjective nature of ideas through its theorization of agents’ “background ideational abilities” and “foreground discursive abilities.” It also avoids relativism by means of Wittgenstein’s distinction between experiences of everyday life and pictures of the world. Contrary to Larsson, what truly separates post-structuralism from discursive institutionalism is the respective approaches’ theorization of the relationship of power to ideas, with discursive institutionalists mainly focused on persuasive power through ideas, while post-structuralists focus on the structural power in ideas or on coercive power over ideas.