Institutional viability: a neo-Durkheimian theory
This article presents a statement of a theory of the conditions under which are institutions, policies and arrangements viable or sustainable, rooted in the neo-Durkheimian tradition. The argument is that institutions have the greatest chance of viability when they exhibit sufficient internal variety of the basic institutional forms, and when the conflicts between these forms can be contained by one or more types of settlements. Institutional forms are subject to both positive feedback or self-reinforcement, which the Durkheimian tradition argues can lead to disorganization, and to negative feedback dynamics which can lead either to gridlock and conflict or, if suitably contained, to settlement. The article offers a classification of the available types of settlement between institutional imperatives and a discussion of their strengths and weaknesses.