Talk: “A Theory of Informal Institutions”
Assoc. Prof. Dr. Zeki Sarigil
Department of Political Science
Tuesday, February 12, 2019, 12:30 p.m.
FEASS Building, A-130
Although both formal and informal institutions play major roles in socio-political processes and outcomes, institutional analyses have focused on formal institutions (or parchment institutions), ignoring or underestimating the role of informal institutional factors and mechanisms. Thus, compared to formal institutions, informal institutions remain as under-theorized in institutionalist literature. Given this lacuna in institutional theory, this study focuses on informal institutions and raises the following questions: How can we classify informal institutions? What novel types of informal institutions can we identify? Why and how do informal institutions emerge? Why do agents still create or resort informal institutions despite the presence of formal institutional rules and regulations? How do informal institutions interact with formal institutions? How do informal institutions change? To answer these questions, this study presents a theory on the role of informal institutions in the socio-political world. The theory is built on a new, improved three-dimensional typology of informal institutions, which identifies four novel types of informal institutions: 1) symbiotic, 2) superseding, 3) contentious and 4) subversive. Regarding the emergence of informal institutions, the theory draws attention to the following intentional factors and dynamics, which increase the likelihood of informal institutions emerging: a legitimacy gap due to a discord between the existing formal rules and social culture; the presence of exclusionary and suppressive formal institutions; the ineffectiveness and limitations of formal institutional arrangements. The theory further suggests that informal institutions might also emerge through relatively more unintentional, evolutionary processes such as habituation. With respect to informal institutional change, the theory asserts that factors such as changes in the effectiveness and/or legitimacy of formal institutions, shifts in surrounding socio-political culture, and changing power structures among institutional actors are likely to trigger informal institutional change. To illustrate the conceptual and theoretical points, this study examines several cases of informal institutions derived from the Turkish socio-political context.
Zeki Sarigil is an Associate Professor of Political Science at Bilkent University. His research interests include ethnicity, ethnonationalism, civil-military relations and institutional theory (e.g. institutional change, path dependence, informal institutions). He has published articles in such journals as European Political Science Review, European Sociological Review, European Journal of International Relations, Nations and Nationalism, Ethnic and Racial Studies, Armed Forces & Society, and South European Society and Politics. Dr. Sarigil has received scholarships, grants and awards from various institutions, including Fulbright, TUBITAK and Science Academy of Turkey. He spent the 2014-2015 academic year at Princeton University as Fulbright Visiting Scholar. He is the author of “Ethnic Boundaries in Turkish Politics: The Secular Kurdish Movement and Islam” (New York University Press, 2018).