Analysing social and labour market policies in Europe is a complex matter: on the one hand, these policies follow divergent and path dependent trajectories; on the other hand, some innovating reforms have taken place. This paper applies a neo-institutionalist framework to the analysis of social and labour market policies dynamics. It focuses more precisely on path dependence theory (as developed in North, 1990), its mechanisms and main conclusions. Then it deals with some more general questions about institutional change theory. From an empirical point of view, this framework helps to get insights about national reforms in the 1990s, and about the new employment strategies coordination process which was launched at the Luxembourg summit (open method of coordination).
Erhel.C, Palier.B, Socio-Économie du Travail n°26 (Économies et Sociétés, tome XXXIX), août 2005, p.1531-1556.