Various influential studies demonstrate the political power of mechanisms of gradual institutional change, such as layering, drift and conversion, in overcoming the pressures of institutional continuity and driving major policy reforms and welfare-state reforms in particular. This article contributes to this body of work by focusing on the inherent possibilities for political contestation that such gradual change mechanisms are likely to generate. The authors argue that characteristics of gradual change mechanisms–their long duration, cumulative character and the presence of pre-change institutions–are likely to enable the opposition of ‘continuity agents’ and provide them with political opportunities to stall or even reverse gradual institutional changes. The authors demonstrate these theoretical assertions through an in-depth study of two gradually implemented welfare-state reforms in Israel: the welfare-to-work reform, which was eventually reversed by its opponents, and the privatization of housing for people with intellectual disabilities, which has been stalled by its adversaries.
Bibliographical notePublisher Copyright:
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- Continuity agents
- institutional change
- welfare reform
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Sociology and Political Science
- Public Administration