Document Type



Available under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share Alike 4.0 International Licence

Publication Details

In Irish Political Studies, Volume 20, Number 3, pp. 23-43.


The paper seeks to improve our understanding of the concept of critical junctures. Critical junctures have been used to provide avenues for exploring change in historical institutionalism. However, the critical junctures concept, as it has developed, lacks rigour. We have no means of saying, with certainty, what is a critical juncture. If we cannot define a critical juncture the issue of path dependency becomes nebulous, as we cannot be certain as to path origins. Over the years the critical junctures concept has been used in conjunction with “watersheds” in politics, but without any quantifications. This has left the approach in a quandary. Consequently, historical institutionalists have been more inclined to look to other approach to identify change. Improving upon the critical junctures approach involves specifying standards that enable identification of levels of change. The remoulded approach is employed here in examining change in the Irish Congress of Trade Unions’ (ICTU) influence over public policy in 1959. It will identify if this change in the unions’ influence over public policy constituted a critical juncture. This example will illustrate how the remoulded approach reduces uncertainty surrounding the issue of what level of change is necessary to constitute a critical juncture. What is more, the remoulded framework is applicable to any social science research concerned with change.