This paper provides a norms-based account of institutional change. It compares two cases of attempted change, one successful and one unsuccessful. The argument advanced is that norm-based change occurs when the norms are congruent with the perceived interests of the actors who have the power to take on the decision. Norms affect the process of institutional change not only by providing legitimacy to some forms of political action, but also by shaping the actors’ perception of their interests as well their strategies. It is argued that norms, in that sense, help political actors combine Max Weber's zweckrational (goal-orientated) and wertrational (value-orientated) categories of behaviour. Empirical evidence drawn from the context of the evolving European Union supports this argument
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