Increasing Returns, Path Dependence, and the Study of Politics

  title={Increasing Returns, Path Dependence, and the Study of Politics},
  author={Paul Pierson},
  journal={American Political Science Review},
  pages={251 - 267}
  • P. Pierson
  • Published 1 June 2000
  • Economics
  • American Political Science Review
It is increasingly common for social scientists to describe political processes as “path dependent.” The concept, however, is often employed without careful elaboration. This article conceptualizes path dependence as a social process grounded in a dynamic of “increasing returns.” Reviewing recent literature in economics and suggesting extensions to the world of politics, the article demonstrates that increasing returns processes are likely to be prevalent, and that good analytical foundations… 
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