In This Review

The Politics of Institutional Choice: The Formation of the Russian State Duma
The Politics of Institutional Choice: The Formation of the Russian State Duma
By Steven S. Smith and Thomas F. Remington
Princeton University Press, 2001, 180 pp

This is a book by and for political scientists, in particular those concerned with applying modern institutional theory to the study of legislatures. Two senior specialists, one a student of the U.S. Congress and the other a scholar of Russian politics, blend their expertise to explore the Russian parliament's founding phases. In particular, they use their careful study of Russian legislators and the process of creating rules and norms within the post-1993 Duma to confirm, contest, and supplement notions central to a fashionable subset of institutional theories borrowed from economics. Although work in this field generally focuses on how institutions shape choices, these authors turn the tables and focus on the way Russian legislators' choices shape key institutional arrangements in the Duma, particularly when these politicians have multiple (and not always reinforcing) motivations.