Statism Research Paper

Academic Writing Service

View sample Statism Research Paper. Browse other research paper examples and check the list of political science  research paper topics for more inspiration. If you need a research paper written according to all the academic standards, you can always turn to our experienced writers for help. This is how your paper can get an A! Also, chech our custom research proposal writing service for professional assistance. We offer high-quality assignments for reasonable rates.


I. Introduction

Academic Writing, Editing, Proofreading, And Problem Solving Services

Get 10% OFF with 24START discount code

II. State Organization and Domination

III. Bringing the State Back In

IV. State Building and Structure

A. Types of Authoritarian States

V. The Politicians’ Dilemma and Weak States Syndrome

VI. Conclusion

I. Introduction

Prior to World War II, scholarship in comparative politics focused mainly on the study of institutions in western European countries, and formal theories examined the workings of the state in detail. At that time, the state was viewed as an autonomous entity with a large degree of power on its own. Society and its impact on the state seemed somewhat unimportant. The behavioral revolution of the 1960s and 1970s, on the other hand, altered the focus of political inquiry completely. With the rise of the society centeredness approach, individual and group behavior assumed primacy of analysis, and political scientists retreated to a large extent from the study of the state. Indeed, scholarship of this time portrayed the state as a black box without having its own interests and being merely an arena where behavioral games of various groups and individuals were acted out. Possibly the biggest contribution of recent statist theories is the idea of “bringing the state back in” (as Skocpol, 1985, expressed it) to the attention of scientific inquiry. Theda Skocpol’s works (1979, 1985) began this movement, which was later extended by emphasizing the state’s security function (Ayoob, 1992; Tilly, 1985) and diversity of structure in the various forms of autocracies, such as corporatist (Malloy, 1977), bureaucratic (O’Donnell, 1978), neopatrimonial (Bratton & van de Walle, 1994), and totalitarian regimes (Bova, 1991; Bunce, 1999). A focus on weak states (Migdal, 1988) and the politician’s dilemma in developing countries (Geddes, 1994) completed the general scholarship on providing a balanced view between individual and group behavior, as well as the workings of the state.

In general, statist theories define what is understood by the institution of the state and analyze the relationship between state and society. In addition, authors within this subset of literature provide explanation about the formation and development of states. Despite its frequent usage, the concept of the state has been ambiguous in the social sciences and has been defined arbitrarily in the past (Sabine, 1934, cited in Almond, 1988). Perhaps because of its strong-fisted or authoritarian connotation, as in “l’etat c’est moi” by Louis XIV, and the emergence of the norm of state sovereignty after the Treaty of Westphalia, political scientists have preferred to call the state anything but that (Watkins, 1968). As a result of far-reaching political mobilization in the West during the 19th and 20th centuries, the term state was replaced by government and later on by political system (Almond, 1988). State sovereignty and the emergence of new political institutions, such as political parties, pressure groups, and the mass media, facilitated a change that called for a broader term for referring to the general entity of the state.

The notion of the state, however, remained important in the Marxist and neo-Marxist interpretation of politics. Scholars working within this paradigm view the state as the “coercive instrument of the ruling class,” defined in terms of the ownership and control of the means of production (Miliband, 1969, p. 5). Essentially, under the capitalist system, the members of the ruling class control the political system and determine the state’s policies and actions (Miliband, 1969). Because of the above dynamics, political equality, save in formal terms, is impossible in the conditions of advanced capitalism, Marxists argue. Therefore, the state as a powerful entity plays an important role in supporting the capitalist class and in perpetuating the status quo.

Eric Nordlinger (1981) aims at avoiding anthropomorphizing the state and settles for a definition that stresses the policy-making function of individuals rather than institutional arrangements. Based on his understanding, the definition of the state must focus on individuals because it is only individuals who are able to create public policy.

II. State Organization and Domination

One of the earliest contributors of statist theories, Max Weber, in a speech given at Munich University in 1918, lays out what became known as the definition of the modern state. According to Weber, the state “cannot be defined in terms of its ends; . . . ultimately, one can define the modern state sociologically only in terms of the specific means peculiar to it, as to every political association, namely, the use of physical force” (Gerth & Mills, 1946, p. 77). Prior to the establishment of the modern state, the use of physical violence by actors other than the state was considered normal because territories in Europe changed hands frequently. However, with the rise of the modern state, the use of physical force was gradually restricted to the state. In other words, the state assumed “the monopoly of the legitimate use of physical force within [its] territory” (Gerth & Mills, 1946, p. 78).

State domination, however, rests on additional factors, such as traditional, charismatic, and legal aspects of legitimation, Weber argues. Rules and historically recognized habits that became part of national consciousness are believed to have special power that can in itself bring about compliance by the populace. This argument is not unlike Montesquieu’s (1989) in The Spirit of the Laws, in which he states that obedience to a power is sustained not necessarily because of a rule’s existence but because of a long-standing history and adherence to that particular rule. Further, citizens of a country may also follow the leader’s decision if he or she is gifted with extraordinary charisma or prophetic ability. Finally, popular domination may also take place via the legal system and rationally established rules. Perpetuating either form of this domination is a function of controlling the material goods the state is equipped with and acquiring additional material from tax revenues collected by the state. Organized domination requires administrative staff, which is bound to the power holder by either material reward or social honor or both (Gerth & Mills, 1946).

In agreement with Weber, subsequent scholars of statist theory argue that the most important function for which the state organizes is its security function (Ayoob, 1992; Tilly, 1985). With the famous phrase “War makes the state,” Charles Tilly (1990) argues that states come about for the main reason of defending themselves from other states. Based on this understanding, the government’s main function is to monopolize violence, which inherently functions on economies of scale. In other words, within a particular country, the state is the sole possessor of violence for the primary reason of coercion, and since this function encompasses the entire territory, monopolized violence is carried out on a large scale. According to statist theories, the state is engaged in legitimate organized crime for the protection of individual citizens, who have no choice but to accept this public good (Tilly, 1985).

According to Tilly (1985), agents of states have four types of activities in terms of organized violence, which are war making, state making, protection, and extraction. This assessment is an extension of Lane’s (1958) analysis of protection. The purpose of war making is to eliminate or to neutralize the state’s “own rivals outside the territories in which they [i.e., the state] have clear and continuous priority as wielders of force” (Tilly, 1985, p. 181), whereas state making is aimed at “eliminating or neutralizing their rivals inside those territories” (p. 181). The protection activity intends to eliminate or neutralize the enemies of the state’s clients; and finally, extraction capability refers to “acquiring the means of carrying out the first three activities—war making, state making, and protection” (p. 181).

III. Bringing the State Back In

During much of the behavioral revolution in the social sciences, analysis mainly focused on individual and group behavior, and the society-centeredness approach dominated major discourses. This approach denied the autonomy of the state and viewed the state as a place in which various actors seek to dominate politics. Beginning with Skocpol, however, the perception of the state began to change. According to Skocpol, the state is very much an autonomous unit, and it has interests of its own as an organic entity (Skocpol, 1979, 1985). Specifically, the state has the ability to generate situations in which revolutions can occur, and rebels are able to exploit such situations. Skocpol questions the core idea of the society-centeredness approach, as well as the Marxist view that the state’s function is nothing else but serving the interest of the dominant economic class. According to Skocpol, the state is autonomous from the dominant economic class, with interests of its own that are different from the dominant class (Mason, 2004). Essentially, the state’s function is not merely serving the interests of the ruling capitalist class.

Authors besides Skocpol moved away from the society-centered viewpoint (Eckstein, 1960; Evans, Rueschemeyer, & Skocpol, 1985; Krasner, 1984; Truman, 1951). Stephen Krasner (1984) argues that if the state and public institutions are merely seen as referees of politics, this would negate the idea that the state is able to manipulate and change its own society. The major function of public officials is perhaps more than only making sure that the game is played fairly; the state is therefore an autonomous actor in the political system. Further, given that executives, congressmen, and judges each have authority and discretion in their decision making, governmental institutions do have autonomous decision-making capacity (Truman, cited in Almond, 1988).

Yet other scholars suggest that the state has even more autonomy than previously stated. In addition, they argue that the pluralist paradigm is not one-sided; a two-way relationship exists between the state and society (Almond, 1988; Eckstein, 1960). According to Gabriel Almond, both the society-centeredness viewpoint and the bringing-the-state- back-in group are missing the point. Within a pluralist system and widespread representation, society has the ability to exert a large degree of influence on the state, but the state also has the ability to influence society. Austin Ranney (1966), for example, gives the example of the president who is the chief legislator and implies that this function is rarely a passive one. Further, the political executive must deal with a variety of interest groups and has to be able to resist the pressures stemming from them (Carter & Hertz, 1972). Finally, bureaucrats are responsible for the majority of policy initiatives and take part in the design of policies, as well as influencing the agenda of decisions (Putnam, 1973).

Nordlinger (1981; Nordlinger, Lowi, & Fabbrini, 1988) seems to provide somewhat of a moderate middle ground between the two views, although his stance is not entirely clear. He states that the ability of public officials to translate their own preferences into public policy is fairly limited if those preferences deviate largely from the preferences of society. Almond perhaps has gone too far by attributing too much autonomy to state officials, he argues. Officials’ ability to turn nominal power into decisional power is severely restricted. Nordlinger dismisses the idea that the state is an all too powerful, autonomous entity able to assert its own policy preferences. Instead, he argues that the state is a malleable unit that is indeed “in the hand of the most powerful individuals” (Nordlinger, 1981, p. 21). Only when preferences of state and society converge will the state follow the preferences asserted by society. However, there is a two-way relationship between these two actors, and in agreement with Almond, Nordlinger states that the society-centered models ignore this two-way relationship.

David Easton (1981) states that the return to the state movement arises out of a contemporary revival of Marxism. Yet those working within this movement differentiate themselves from Marxists because they clearly articulate that the state is more than merely subservient to the ruling capitalist class (Skocpol, 1979, 1985). Based on the Marxist conception of the state, owners and controllers determine policies, and the state is never an autonomous entity and does not have the ability to act against the interest of the dominant capitalist class. Neo-Marxists, on the other hand, argue that the state is relatively autonomous and temporarily acts against the interests of the dominant class to maintain capitalism, which is the long-term interest of the dominant class. In essence, the state may act against the short-term interests of the ruling class in order to save capitalism.

IV. State Building and Structure

In addition to defining what is included in the idea of the state and clarifying the relationship between state and society, statist theories assess the difficulties state formation entails in both industrialized countries and developing nations. The formation of the state in the West was characterized by a long, gradual, but also violent process during which the frequent exchange of territories eventually came to a halt and borders solidified. With the signature of the Treaty of Westphalia, the international system accepted an entirely new arrangement, based on which the building blocks of the system were nation-states equipped with full sovereignty and the promise of noninterference by other equally sovereign states. What exactly is meant by nation state, however, has not been clear since. On one hand, statehood refers to the political side of a country, including especially the institutional aspect of governance, whereas a nation is defined as encompassing a relatively uniform culture and ethnicity, as well as identity within a country, in addition to the political aspect. Furthermore, based on Article 3 of the Montevideo Convention, which restated already existing international law, a country is considered a nation-state if it has (a) a permanent population, (b) a defined territory, (c) a functioning government that has control within the borders of the country, and (d) a capacity to enter into relations with other states. Even though many countries, such as many weak states in Africa, for a certain period in their histories clearly do not meet some of these criteria, these standards have been typically the baseline of evaluation for nation-state status.

In an increasingly interconnected world in which global trade and economic activity are widespread and in which increased transgovernmental organizational activity prevails, it is important to evaluate how recognition of individual states by the international community factors into the definition and assessment of nation-state status. At present, an internationally accepted treaty that would achieve this aim does not exist. The above-mentioned Montevideo Convention does not incorporate this element and resorts instead to the “declarative theory of statehood,” omitting the recognition specification (Hillier, 1998). Some nations subscribe to the “constitutive theory of statehood” (Lauterpacht, 1958), which does intend to add international recognition; however, this theory has been criticized on the grounds that it is incomplete and does not deal with instances in which states are not recognized by others.

Despite the above difficulties with respect to clarifying the state as the unit of the international system, developing countries were required to build nation-states based on preexisting conditions that barely resembled those of the Western state-building process. Mohammed Ayoob points out important differences between third world countries and established Western democracies in terms of state structure and organization during state formation. Third world countries not only are weak states, which means that they have a much more difficult time penetrating society, but they also face civil wars within their borders with a much higher frequency than industrialized nations had to during the time of their state formation (Ayoob, 1992; Migdal, 1988). Resource extraction is also problematic for newly emerging states because of widespread poverty, and institution building is often stalled by high levels of corruption and strong ethnic differences.

State building is shaped and determined in the context of the international environment. Statist theories point out that third world countries are faced with the task of establishing a nation-state because it is the only acceptable unit of political interaction on the broader world stage. The international system is set up with the state as a building block, and whether some countries’ communal identities or organizational structures match the system or not, they have to follow the prescribed scheme nevertheless. It is argued that nationalist identity in countries following colonization was frequently forged, and the sense of community did not follow already existing ethnic lines (Ayoob, 1992).

Again, the development of the nation-state in Europe differed drastically from the formation of the state in other areas of the world, especially the third world. State development in Europe took centuries and was accompanied by bloody civil wars and ethnic as well as religious disagreements. Perhaps it is too much to expect third world countries on the path of nationhood not only provide security during the transition period but also offer adequate welfare and enable participation at all levels of government, each of these elements being a difficult task on its own. European countries at the time of their state formation faced merely the provision of security. Developing countries, on the other hand, are expected to achieve a much higher level of development at a considerably faster pace and at the same time fulfill the many demands that a globalized, modern, and complex world places on them.

A. Types of Authoritarian States

Another contribution of statist theories is that, in addition to the standard dichotomy of democratic versus authoritarian regimes, they differentiate among various subtypes of authoritarian states and assess the problems associated with such arrangements, as well as recommending policy for dealing with those problems. Five major types of authoritarian state systems can be distinguished: corporatist, bureaucratic-authoritarian, neopatrimonial or sultanistic, totalitarian, and post-totalitarian (Linz, 2000). The prospects of democracy differ according to which state system operates in any given country.

The corporatist state is typically a one-party-dominant system in which only a limited number of component units or sectors exist, such as labor unions, peasants, merchants, and industry, and no competition takes place among specific units (Malloy, 1977). Essentially, the state ultimately decides which units will be allowed to participate in the system, and the state strictly controls leadership selection of the individual units. Membership in a corporatist setting is compulsory, and if a person, by occupation, is a member of a certain category, he or she is automatically a member of the organized corporate group. Organization outside of the boundaries of corporate groups is not possible. In addition, the structure of individual compartment units, such as labor, industry, peasants, merchants, and so forth, is hierarchical, and only the leadership has direct interaction with the agents of the state.

Furthermore, the corporatist system is characterized by a strong element of bureaucratic planning, and although elections do take place, it is clear which party will be the winner of those elections. Examples of corporatist authoritarian states include Mexico under the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) and the South Asian Tigers, such as Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, and Hong Kong. Corporatism in these states functions as a way of accommodating and accepting the process of modernization and development. Stresses that naturally come from modernization are believed to be relieved if the state manages society adequately. Conflict is not inevitable; however, if the state is able to possess the authority and the skills to manage the process of modernization, conflict can be minimized. Democracy has the highest probability of springing up in the corporatist system, given that individual compartment units are already organized and can serve as the basis of civil society and democracy if they are able to cast off their ties to the dominant party (Malloy, 1977).

Within corporatist settings, the state typically provides benefits, such as steady jobs, to those who are part of the various sectors. In case the state fails to sustain the provision of such benefits, the system evolves into a bureaucratic authoritarian system, in which elections are suspended entirely (O’Donnell, 1978). Bureaucratic-authoritarian regimes evolve when groups that had been previously actively involved in policy making are deactivated, which is often achieved via military coup. Transition to democracy from a highly technocratic state, such as the bureaucratic system, can take place after the old corporatist order is restored.

In a neopatrimonial state, the right to rule is prescribed to a person and not to an office, and benefits are given in exchange for political loyalty (Bratton & van de Walle, 1994). Political office in such a system is determined by loyalty and is not based on merit. In addition, bureaucratic power is either weak or nonexistent. Neopatrimonial states typically do not display the formal governing coalitions between state and social interests or the collective bargaining over core policy issues that are found in corporatist states. In neopatrimonial states, the chief executive maintains authority through personal patronage rather than ideology or law.

Observable differences exist between the corporatist and the neopatrimonial system. Under neopatrimonialism, for instance, the state has undermined capitalist forms of accumulation, whereas in a corporatist state, capitalism is allowed to function. In other words, under corporatism, the state respects individual property rights and observes the rules of the capitalist economy, but in the neopatrimonial state, private ownership of assets is not the norm, and state ownership of such assets prevails.

Both corporatist and neopatrimonial regimes are built on personalistic ties and typically experience high levels of corruption. The patron–client relationship is pointed out by John Duncan Powell (1970), who argues that environmental scarcity and the constant threat of drought or other natural disasters make peasants vulnerable economically, and therefore, to secure protection, peasants turn to the patron on a regular basis. There is a degree of power asymmetry between the superior (patron) and the subordinate (client). The relationship between these two actors depends on reciprocity in the exchange of goods and services. On one hand, the patron provides security for those engaged in subsistence farming, and the client reciprocates with political support for the patron. Patron–client relations are strong and typically enduring in traditional villages, where face-to-face contacts prevail. In a more integrated village, the relationship is characterized by differentiation and specialization. This type of contact is highly personalistic, largely with informal agreements. Essentially, a public entity that would function as an enforcement authority does not exist. There are no sanctions of compliance, and transactions take place within the realm of private accountability. This form of association differs largely from the relationship between citizen and representative, in which public accountability and the rule of law prevail. Peasant unions under the patron–client system either do not form or are organized from above, such as in the corporatist state (Scott, 1972).

The final two subsets of authoritarian systems are totalitarian and post-totalitarian regimes. Totalitarian systems are characterized by state ownership and control of all production assets and the complete absence of market forces (Bova, 1991; Bunce, 1999). These types of systems employ centralized planning, and one party dominates the political agenda. The regime has eliminated all preexisting political, social, and economic pluralism and has a unified, articulated, and guiding utopian ideology. Leadership in a totalitarian setting functions with a high degree of uncertainty.

Post-totalitarian regimes are similar to totalitarian systems, with the major difference that the central ideology fades over time. Under post-totalitarianism, the state still has one party and one party only; however, some constraints on the leader are established gradually, and there is a more noticeable degree of social pluralism. Leaders of such regimes rule less by charisma and more on the basis of technical competence. Bureaucratic and technocratic leadership is more the norm than highly ideological and charismatic control. In some cases, elements of democratic opposition can be present in civil society and could lead to democracy. These elements, however, are not allowed in a totalitarian state. Furthermore, the black-market economy is tolerated as an alternative to the inefficiencies of a state-managed economy. It is possible for a partial market economy and a planned state economy to coexist within a post-totalitarian state (Linz & Stepan, 1996).

Transition from a totalitarian regime to a post-totalitarian state is visible once the overarching ideology declines and state legitimacy wanes as a result. Increasingly a growing disjunction is present between the official ideology and reality (Linz & Stepan, 1996). Citizens and elites are less committed to state ideology, and growing criticism of the regime comes from society. Although there is a clear decline in ideology, the leadership still observes a coherent set of ideas, unlike in other authoritarian regimes. Transition to democracy from post-totalitarianism is complicated by the lack of a preexisting civil society and the absence of political parties and democratic leadership. Obtaining a democratic political culture in this case is a difficult task.

V. The Politicians’ Dilemma and Weak States Syndrome

Early statist theories focused on the institutions of the state whereas works written during the behavioral revolution purposely played up the role of the grassroots level. Very often the literature leaves out a balanced description of the relationship between state and society. This balance, however, is better accomplished in scholarship dealing with the third world, such as scholarship exploring the dilemma politicians face when trying to deal with the limitations of a patron who stands as a filter between state and society (Geddes, 1994) and the weak states syndrome (Migdal, 1988).

As mentioned above with respect to neopatrimonial regimes, patron–client relations, which are often the basis of politics in the third world, benefit both sides, the patron who receives the vote of the client and the client who takes advantage of the benefits provided by the patron. Furthermore, the benefits the client receives from the patron are known, certain, and immediate. Moreover, the patron, or political entrepreneur, as Barbara Geddes (1994) terms it, has similar certainty that this form of exchange will enable the patron to stay in office. However, the dilemma politicians face concerns long-term reform of the economy, politics, or the broader society. As long as the reforms proposed coincide with the activities that need to be done for the politician to remain in office, reform will be delivered and will take place. But if the immediate effect of maintaining office collides with long-term reform prospects, reform will remain unrealized for years to come. Most of the time, the politician’s dilemma inhibits the growth of state capacity and reform because politicians choose the immediate effects over long-term reform even if reform would improve their long-term credentials.

Previous scholarship treated the state as a unitary actor, behaving almost as an individual (Skocpol, 1979, 1985). Geddes (1994), however, shows that the state is composed of many different segments, such as parties, legislature, or the parliament, in each of which officials are seeking to fulfill their own rational self-interests. This self-interest includes reelection for the next term, or “maximizing their career success” (Geddes, 1994, p. 7). This dynamic heavily influences the ways in which the overall political system works. Further, administrative reform is a collective good from which everyone is likely to benefit, but organizing the reform would be irrational for individuals, and therefore the collective action problem arises as a result. The collective action problem occurs when individuals have little incentive to participate in the production of public goods; however, once the public good is provided, they will enjoy the benefit of it.

According to Robert Axelrod (1984), cooperation is possible to achieve if groups are small enough to detect free riders, individuals who prefer to enjoy the benefits of public goods but do not participate in the production of them. From small-scale cooperation, large-scale cooperation evolves over time because cooperation spreads to other groups as well. Geddes (1994) disagrees with this claim and states that smaller groups actually hinder the emergence of wider cooperation because of the patron–client relationship inherent in some societies. In other words, solving the collective action problem in small groups will not lead to the spread of cooperation to the larger society. In patron–client arrangements, cooperation is irrational because clients receive goods for their votes and noncooperation benefits them personally and directly.

Geddes (1994) proposes ways to deal with the politician’s dilemma and potentially increase state capacity. First, civil servants should be insulated from political influence and need to be cut off from direct political involvement. Second, positions for administrative personnel have to be built on a heavily merit-based system that asks for the specialized skills the job requires. Finally, Geddes states that new agencies have to be created that are autonomous from the government, such as the Federal Reserve Bank or the Federal Aviation Administration.

The origins of weak states can be traced back to the global economy, as well as the colonial heritage many of these states experienced. The industrial revolution in Europe led to the development of entire regions’ producing raw materials for the insatiable European market. Furthermore, the commercialization of agriculture affected more than 90% of the overall world population. Previous communal holdings were abolished, and land tenure laws were altered substantially. As a result, many people lost their land, and the old social control declined markedly. Another factor that is believed to have led to developing countries’ becoming weak states is those countries’ history of colonialism (Clapman, 1985; Young, 1995). Colonies were economically and culturally peripheral to the mother country. Previous local political systems were displaced by colonial administrative systems, which still form the basis of nation building today.

Despite established political institutions, former colonies remain weak states after decolonization (Migdal, 1988).Although constitutions have been developed in most of these states, those documents mostly remain papers with little enforcement power. Overall, the state remains weak and is unable to penetrate society, regulate social relations, or extract resources that would enable the state to function properly. One of the main reasons for the staying power of weak states is the persistence of patron–client relations (Powell, 1970; Scott, 1972). Peasants for the most part remain under this relationship because the patron provides insurance in case of natural disasters and poverty. The bond that ties the peasant to the patron is perhaps too strong to be destroyed.

Weak states are unable to dominate over rules of other social institutions, such as families, clans, tribes, patron–client dyads, and even multinational corporations (Migdal, 1988). Multiple sets of rules exist within society and often form gridlock with one another. Part of the reason the patron–client scenario persists is that people feel the state would be unable to provide security in case of economic hardship. People feel that this is a task a patron is better equipped and willing to deal with. On the other hand, there is also widespread resistance coming from the side of the strongmen, such as chiefs, landlords, and bosses.

Joel Migdal (1988) describes a few strategies that weak states employ for political survival, given the nature of present relations, in which the state has difficulty penetrating society. In a phenomenon termed the big shuffle, state leaders periodically appoint, remove, and shuffle heads of agencies and institutions that have the potential to accumulate political power, or in other words, that would have the ability to threaten the current regime. Also, in order to secure and to keep the position of the present leadership, people are appointed to key positions who have deep personal loyalties to the leader in forms of kinship, clan or tribe ties, and so forth. Further, leaders of weak states frequently resort to the imprisonment and torture of the opposition. Each of these strategies hinders weak states from developing more complex institutions that could help them democratize. Increasing the complexity of state structure is believed to be one way to counter fast-paced development and modernization (Huntington, 1965). By artificially preventing the development of institutions, weak states close themselves off from future development.

VI. Conclusion

Statist theories define what is understood by the state. However, this definition has been fairly ambiguous and has expanded to include political parties, pressure groups, the mass media, and so forth. As a result, frequently the term state has been replaced by other phrases, such as government or political system. Scholarship of statism also looks at state formation within the Western context, as well as that of developing countries. Further, statist theories also describe various functions for which the state organizes. These functions include the monopoly of warfare within set state boundaries (Tilly, 1985; Weber, cited in Gerth & Mills, 1946), taxation, the provision of social services, and so forth. Views of the state and its role in society have changed over time. Initial Western formal theories have looked at the state from the institutional standpoint. Subsequently, the society-centeredness approach, which viewed the behavior of society and interest groups as more crucial than the workings of the state, dominated. With Skocpol’s works, however, the state was brought back to the fore of social inquiry. Finally, statist theories also recognize the nuances among authoritarian states and reach deeper into understanding this subset of systems. Works on the politician’s dilemma (Geddes, 1994) and weak states (Migdal, 1988) have begun to provide a more balanced view of the interaction or the two-way relationship between state and society.


  1. Almond, G. (1988). The return to the state. American Political Science Review, 82(3), 853-874.
  2. Axelrod, R. (1984). The evolution of cooperation. New York: Basic Books.
  3. Ayoob, M. (1992). The security predicament of the third world state: Reflections on state making in a comparative perspective. In B. Job (Ed.), The insecurity dilemma: National security of third world states (pp. 63-80). Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner.
  4. Bova, R. (1991). Political dynamics of post Communist transition. World Politics, 44, 113-138.
  5. Bratton, M., & van de Walle, N. (1994). Neopatrimonial regimes and political transitions in Africa. World Politics, 46, 453-489.
  6. Bunce, V. (1999). Subversive institutions: The design and the destruction of socialism and the state. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.
  7. Carter, G., & Hertz, J. (1972). Government and politics in the twentieth century. New York: Praeger.
  8. Clapman, C. (1985). Third world politics: An introduction. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press.
  9. Easton, D. (1981). The political system besieged by the state. Political Theory, 9, 303-325.
  10. Eckstein, H. (1960). Pressure group politics: The case of the British Medical Association. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.
  11. Evans, P. B., Rueschemeyer, D., & Skocpol, T. (Eds.). (1985). Bringing the state back in. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.
  12. Geddes, B. (1994). The politician’s dilemma. Los Angeles: University of California Press.
  13. Gerth, H. H., & Mills, C. W. (Eds. & Trans.). (1946). From Max Weber: Essays in sociology (see especially pp. 77-128). New York: Oxford University Press.
  14. Hillier, T. (1998). Sourcebook on public international law. London: Routledge.
  15. Huntington, S. (1965). Political development and political decay. World Politics, 17(3), 386-430.
  16. Krasner, S. (1984).Approaches to the state: Alternative conceptions and historical dynamics. Comparative Politics, 16, 223-246.
  17. Lane, F. (1958). Economic consequences of organized violence. Journal of Economic History, 18(4), 401-417.
  18. Lauterpacht, H. (1958). The development of international law by the International Court. New York: Praeger.
  19. Linz, J. J. (2000). Totalitarian and authoritarian regimes. Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner.
  20. Linz, J. J., & Stepan, A. (1996). Problems of democratic transition and consolidation: Southern Europe, South America, and post Communist Europe. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press.
  21. Malloy, J. M. (1977). Authoritarianism and corporatism in Latin America: The modal pattern. In J. M. Malloy (Ed.), Authoritarianism and corporatism in Latin America (pp. 3-19). Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press.
  22. Mason, T. D. (2004). Caught in the crossfire. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield.
  23. Migdal, J. (1988). Strong states and weak societies. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.
  24. Miliband, R. (1969). The state in capitalist society: The analysis of the Western system of power. London: Quarter Books.
  25. Montesquieu, C. (1989). The spirit of the laws (A. Cohler, B. C. Miller, & H. S. Stone, Eds. & Trans.). Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.
  26. Nordlinger, E. A. (1981). On the autonomy of the democratic state. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
  27. Nordlinger, E. A., Lowi, T. J., & Fabbrini, S. (1988). The return to the state: Critiques. American Political Science Review, 82(3), 875-901.
  28. O’Donnell, G. (1978). Reflections on the patterns of change in the bureaucratic authoritarian state. Latin American Research Review, 13, 3-8.
  29. Powell, J. D. (1970). Peasant society and clientelist politics. American Political Science Review, 64, 411-425.
  30. Putnam, R. (1973). The political attitudes of senior civil servants in Western Europe. British Journal of Political Science, 3, 257-297.
  31. Ranney, A. (1966). The governing of men. New York: Holt, Rinehart & Winston.
  32. Reno, W. (1997). War, markets, and the reconfiguration of West Africa’s weak states. Comparative Politics, 29(4), 493-510.
  33. Scott, J. C. (1972). Patron client politics and political change in Southeast Asia. American Political Science Review, 66, 68-90.
  34. Skocpol, T. (1979). States and social revolutions: A comparative analysis of France, Russia, and China. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.
  35. Skocpol, T. (1985). Bringing the state back in: Strategies of analysis in current research. In P. B. Evans, D. Rueschemeyer, & T. Skocpol (Eds.), Bringing the state back in (pp. 3-43). Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.
  36. Tilly, C. (1985).War making and state making as organized crime. In P. B. Evans, D. Rueschemeyer, & T. Skocpol (Eds.), Bringing the state back in (pp. 169-191). Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.
  37. Tilly, C. (1990). Coercion, capital, and European states. Malden, MA: Blackwell.
  38. Truman, D. (1951). The governmental process. New York: Knopf.
  39. Watkins, F. (1968). International encyclopedia of the social sciences. New York: Macmillan.
  40. Young, C. (1995). The heritage of colonialism. In J.W. Harbeson & D. Rothchild (Eds.), Africa in world politics: Post cold war challenges (pp. 23 30). Boulder, CO: Westview Press.
Political Development and Modernization Research Paper
Dependency and Development Research Paper


Always on-time


100% Confidentiality
Special offer! Get 10% off with the 24START discount code!