This article explores the application of ideas about path dependence to the study of national political regime change. It first reviews the central components of path-dependent explanation, including the concepts of critical juncture and legacy. This mode of explanation is then employed in the analysis of diverging regime trajectories in Central America during the 19th and 20th centuries. The article argues that the 19th-century liberal reform period was a critical juncture that locked the Central American countries onto divergent paths of long-term development, culminating in sharply contrasting regime outcomes. A final section puts the argument about Central America in a broader comparative perspective by considering other path-dependent explanations of regime change.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Sociology and Political Science
- Political Science and International Relations