Historical Context and Path Dependence

James Mahoney*, Daniel Schensul

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

76 Scopus citations


This article looks into the relevance of the so-called path dependence and historical context in contextual political analysis. It analyzes the different meanings and uses of the concept of path dependence in contemporary academic discourse and uses the array of distinct understandings of path dependence as a means of specifying a number of ways in which historical context matters. It also identifies the strengths and weaknesses of different conceptualizations of path dependence and the trade-offs involved in adopting particular definitions of the concept. It discusses the relevant concepts of reactive sequence, self-reproducing sequences, and historical lockin.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationThe Oxford Handbook of Contextual Political Analysis
PublisherOxford University Press
ISBN (Electronic)9780191577185
ISBN (Print)0199270430, 9780199270439
StatePublished - Mar 16 2006


  • Contextual political analysis
  • Historical context
  • Historical lock-in
  • Path dependence
  • Reactive sequence
  • Self-reproducing sequences

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences(all)


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