Institutional Grammar Book Website

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Welcome to the Institutional Grammar Book Website

This is the companion website of the book Institutional Grammar -- Foundations and Applications for Institutional Analysis published by Palgrave Macmillan (available here; check your university library subscriptions for free access), and the Institutional Grammar 2.0 (IG 2.0) more generally. This website includes an overview of the book content organized by individual chapters. This site further highlights the principles and core features of the IG 2.0 as a backward-compatible revision of Crawford and Ostrom's Grammar of Institutions, introduced in their seminal 1995 article. Specific aspects addressed by the website that are subject to ongoing extension are the discussion of commonly asked questions when engaging with the Institutional Grammar (see FAQ), and common practical questions that occur when engaging in the encoding of institutional information. The website finally provides links to relevant resources with further information on the IG 2.0. The information on this site will be continuously updated and extended based on feedback and observations encountered as part of the emerging analytical application of the IG.

What are Institutions?

Before exploring the Institutional Grammar, an essential foundation is the concept of "Institutions" as interpreted in this context and informally introduced at this stage: Institutions are the foundation of any social system; the rules that govern social behavior, or as Douglass North put it, "the rules of the game" (North, 1990). These can be of various type, including descriptions of behavioral conventions (e.g., patterns of observed social behavior), pre-/proscriptions of behavior (e.g., obligations or prohibitions imposed upon society members) that can be variably imposed and enforced socially (i.e., exist as informal social norms), or be based on formal decision making processes, e.g., by a legitimated authority, and then exist as formal legal norms. Individual rules can vary in complexity and can be systemically interlinked to form institutional arrangements. The effectiveness of such arrangement relies on the interaction of formal and informal rules, as well as the dynamics under which those rules come about. The study of institutions can vary in scope and focus, selectively emphasizing the effectiveness, the origin, or dynamics of institutions, all of which are based on different analytical traditions (e.g., economics, social psychology, policy and legal studies) and techniques (e.g., ethnographic approaches, statistical and computational studies, formal analyses). The Institutional Grammar aims at integrating different perspectives on institutions and serves as an analytical paradigm that allows researchers to develop a shared understanding and representation of instituitons linked to a diverse array of analytical approaches and objectives.

What is the Institutional Grammar?

The Institutional Grammar describes an approach to systematically study institutions by representing those in terms of syntactic structures and semantics that capture the content of institutions in terms of parseable institutional statements, independent of whether those institutions exist in form (e.g., policies) or in use, i.e., in practice. Originally devised by Crawford and Ostrom in 1995, the "Grammar of Institutions" offers a regulative syntax that captures the prototypical structure of institutions in terms of institutional statements.

Since its original inception, the "Institutional Grammar" (IG) has been applied in diverse domains in conjunction with a variety of analytical techniques, through which scholars have conceptually and analytical linked the IG to their respective fields. In its application, the IG has undergone a series of modifications, and has been subject to challenges and proposals for refinements that have been integrated into what is referred to as the "Institutional Grammar 2.0", proposed by Frantz and Siddiki. The IG 2.0 establishes novel opportunities for institutional analysis with the primary objective to develop the IG as an interdisciplinary interface, open to scholars across the social sciences, and independent of the nature (e.g., formal, informal) and form (e.g., written, oral) of the studied institutions, as well as applied techniques (e.g., content analysis, computational modeling, formal analyses).