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Scholarship of all stripes and orientations now presumes that we need to take the state seriously. While debates continue over what kind of state and how much state to promote, the contemporary literature has tended to undertheorize genetic and dynamic questions about the origins, functional domains, capacities, and performance of such states. It is imperative that we once again address these causal questions. This volume represents an effort to do precisely this. Given regional, temporal, and spatial variation, we ask: How do we explain quite varied state capacity and state performance in the developing world? This volume revisits this classic question by returning to the comparative analysis of the social origins and underlying conditions of states; in doing so, we move past a purely mechanical explanation that focuses on institutional or structural conditions alone. This volume focuses, in particular, on the political processes by which states are built, the leaders and coalitions that deploy states in pursuit of political projects, and the opportunities and constraints to pursue simultaneously an agenda focused on order, prosperity, and inclusion. In this regard, ideal-type states do not just command the legitimate monopoly on the use of force in a defined territory, but are increasingly subject to citizen demands for prosperity and inclusion. Why, whether, and how states meet this challenge form the normative subject of all contemporary states. Throughout this project, we have moved between a focus on state formation, state capacity, and state performance. Given their collective historical sensibility, the chapters, in turn, move between these three conceptual phrases. Thus we remind the reader of core concepts and clarify their uses. We have talked about the state as a set of governing institutions embedded in their respective societies. States are a form of domination and legitimation, although the precise institutional form varies across time and context. While it is common to use a Weberian point of departure (which leads us to focus on coercive institutions of order alongside bureaucratic governing institutions), today citizens expect much more of their states (including governance, prosperity, and inclusion); political struggles to define state boundaries are of central interest to this book – posing questions about state building, state formation, and state capacity. While the opening chapter focused on the latter, the empirical chapters introduced all three into their analysis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationStates in the Developing World
PublisherCambridge University Press
Number of pages14
ISBN (Electronic)9781316665657
ISBN (Print)9781107158498
StatePublished - Jan 1 2017

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Social Sciences


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