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Abstract

This article introduces discourse analysis as a theoretical concept and an empirical methodology that may enable the endogenization of path creation and path breaking changes in conventional models of political path dependencies. Economic criteria such as rents created by a policy do not always provide a comprehensive explanation for path dependent political decisions. Discourse theory implies that specific interpretative schemata and narratives, such as story lines in the mass media, heavily influence the political discourse. Discourses themselves exercise a constitutive power that constrains decision-making processes and, thus, influence the ensuing policy creation path. Hence, discourses must be taken into account when political path creation is analysed. In this paper we trace over time individual story lines that represent important elements of the discourse underlying the restriction of seasonal farm workers from central and eastern European countries in Germany. We illustrate how dominant speakers and their story lines have been and currently are interacting to shape this policy.

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