Ideas as Building Blocks of a Path: Islamic Challenge to the pro-Western Turkish Foreign Policy, 1996-1997
Unformatted Document Text:
and Stoker 2005, 28).
These contingent, small occurrences are important because once
they take place at certain times, they have a large and long-term impact, leading to new
sequences of events (Pierson 2004; Schwartz 2005, 4).
Initially, there might be multiple options for actors (Arthur 1994, 112-113;
Goldstone 1998; Mahoney 2000 and 2001; Pierson 2000, 263). As Arthur notes “often
there is a multiplicity of patterns that are candidates for long-term self-reinforcement; the
accumulation of small events early on ‘pushes’ the dynamics into the orbit of one of these
and thus ‘selects’ the structure that the system eventually locks into” (1994, 33).
However, once an option is chosen and a path emerges, it becomes inflexible in the sense
that further steps on that path make shifting to another one much difficult (see Pierson
2004, 157). In other words, once a certain equilibrium is reached, this equilibrium
maintains itself (“locks itself in”, Arthur 1989). In the words of Mahoney, “once
contingent historical events take place, path-dependent sequences are marked by
relatively deterministic causal patterns or what can be thought of as “inertia”- i.e. once
processes are set into motion and begin tracking a particular outcome, these processes
tend to stay in motion and continue to track this outcome” (2000, 511).
The selected pattern, however, may not necessarily be the most efficient pattern.
Path dependence studies claim that path dependent processes might also reinforce
inefficient paths (Arthur 1994, 1; Pierson 2000, 253). In other words, ineffective and
inefficient institutions might also lock themselves in (Hay and Wincott 1998, 954). For
instance, David (1985) shows that although the standard ‘QWERTY’ keyboard
arrangement, introduced in the 1870s, was inferior to August Dvorak’s arrangement
Contingency, here, refers to the inability to explain those events by prior events or initial conditions
(Mahoney 2000, 507; Deeg 2001, 9).