Cognitive and normative determinants of state policymaking behavior: Lessons from the sociological institutionalism

Edward Alan Miller, Jane Banaszak-Holl

Research output: Contribution to journalReview ArticleResearchpeer-review

28 Citations (Scopus)


Although comparative state policy frameworks consider the role of societal norms, few account for cognitive and normative imperatives that originate outside a state's boundaries and are specific to promoting or impeding the adoption of particular policies. One approach that does so is the new institutionalism in sociology, which emphasizes legitimacy-seeking actors who face pressures to conform to cultural rules, norms, and expectations, regardless of outcomes. This article introduces comparative state policy researchers to the sociological institutionalism, emphasizing basic concepts and arguments and suggesting how reliance on this framework can enable researchers to better integrate rational-actor and cultural-based views for understanding why states choose particular public policies. Interviews with national and state experts in Medicaid nursing-facility reimbursement illustrate the utility of the sociological institutionalism for comparative state policy research.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)191-216
Number of pages26
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2005

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