Head of the Organising Committee
Sanna Turoma
sanna.turoma [at] helsinki.fi

Conference Coordinator
Kaarina Aitamurto
kaarina.aitamurto [at] helsinki.fi

Conference Secretary
Maarit Elo-Valente
maarit.elo-valente [at] helsinki.fi

Conference Intern
Miikka Piiroinen
miikka.piiroinen [at] helsinki.fi

Conference e-mail:
fcree-aleksconf [at] helsinki.fi

The Aleksanteri Institute

Unioninkatu 33 (P.O. Box 42)
00014 University of Helsinki
phone +358-(0)50-3565 802

aleksanteri [at] helsinki.fi


Past Aleksanteri Conferences

Olga Malinova (Higher School of Economics, Russia

Lyubov Fadeeva (Perm State University, Russia)

Irina Busygina (MGIMO, Russia)

Panel abstract: The Reach and Limits of Cultural Explanations vs. Institutional Theory in Political Science

Over the last few decades we observe the opening of significant divide between political scientists who practice what is known as institutional theory and those who follow approaches relying on the cultural and historical record. Both approaches have many variants, in general however those who believe that a country's unique history and/or culture determine the operation of its institutions and political processes may reject the institutional approach that studies formal and informal rules and the ways of how they matter and in its turn postulates that culture surely has some significance, however there are no reliable methods of analysis for cultural context and its implications for political processes.

Given the heterogeneity of the political science profession, it would be surprising if any one approach would win general acceptance. Important is that using this or that approach for analyzing a certain problem would bring the researcher to different, sometimes contradicting conclusions and, consequently, to different recommendations that researchers would give to practitioners.

Our general assumption is that there are problems/cases/situations when the choice of cultural approach as the main tool would be more useful and there are those where institutional approach is more promising (for instance, that would depend upon the number of players and upon how high are the stakes). Thus, the purpose of our panel is not to defend any of approaches and reject the other, but looking at different issues (all with regards to Russia) and using cultural and institutional approaches to discuss and compare the results of analysis.