CHAPTER 7: INSTITUTIONS AND STATES
• Regular patterns of behaviours that give stability and predictability to social life
• Informal with no clear written rules; examples: family, social classes, or ethnic groups
• Formal institution: codified rules and organization, including governments, political
parties. Bureaucracies, legislatures and constitutions.
• Can be seen as constraints, or tools or resources to achieve specific political or other
• Many theorists try to identify regularities, E.g. Duverger’s Law: stating that first-past-
the-post electoral systems produce two-party systems.
• Other theorists examine the environment by examining environmental pressure. E.g
• Steinmo: “Institutions define the rules of the political game and as such they define
who can play and how they play…who loses” (Steinmo, 2001:7555)
• Anthony Gidden’s structuration theory clarifies the relationships between political
institution and the environmental forces.
• System means political system, structure means political institution.
• Structuration means the factors that both hold back and provide resources for
changes in the operation of the institution and the system as a whole.
“Structure” and “agency”:
• Structure refers to the impact of a particular group of institution.
• “path-determined” outcomes; once a particular decision was taken, other
decisions along the same path become easier to follow.
• “Agency” refers to the impact of actions taken by one or more agents, either
individuals or groups of them. It is rare that particular political outcome is
determined by structure alone. Nor do agents have complete freedom, since their
options are always constrained by structures of one kind or another.
• “State” is the structure of rule and authority within a particular geographical area.
Barry Buzan: “In some important senses, the state is more an idea ……a physical
• It may be defined as “the ability of a government to administer its territory effectively”
• Four basic forms: (1) mobilize financial resources (extractive capacity) (2) guide
national socioeconomic development (steering capacity) (3) dominate by using
symbols and creating consensus (legitimation capacity) (4) capacity to dominate by
the use or threat of force (coercive capacity)
The Governmental Innovations of the American Revolution
- KEY CONCEPT BOX page 145
The Government Legacy of the French Revolution - KEY CONCEPT BOX page 146
• A milestone in the development of the European state was the separation of state
officials from the ruler
• Another key development was the separation of the state from the rest of society
through institutionalization and bureaucratization
• Warfare was a catalyst for raising funds from society and increasing the state’s reach
• The American and French Revolutions helped to develop some of the better known
modern principles of government
• New institution such as national constitutions and legislatures helped to check the
power of rulers
• The economic and military might of the dominant European powers, supported by
superior technology, helped them develop empires overseas.
• Colonialism was exploitation
• Administrative arrangements in the colonies were never as sophisticated as in
Europe, because the colonizing powers had no interest in doing anything more than
• Minimum in infrastructure
• Most of the newly independent states simply took over the structures and institutions
put in place by their European colonizers, since those were the structures and
institutions that the post-independent elites, trained in the colonial centres of power,
were familiar with
• Former colonies adopted was the bureaucratic machine that extracted resources
from the people to pay for government. (E.g. India: Indian Civil Service)
• Patrimonial states: some rulers came to use the state to extract resources from the
rest of society for their own benefit (E.g. African states in particular)
• European insistence on undivided sovereignty: pre-colonial borders tended to be fluid
and changeable, reflecting the nomadic lifestyles of the indigenous peoples, but
western states imposed formal boundaries.
• Members of the ethnic or religious group were often split between two or more
colonies, which traditionally hostile groups were sometimes forced together within the
same boundaries. (E.g. South America, North America and sub-Saharan Africa)
• Thus in many parts of the world the state has had to create the nation, whereas
in Europe the nation had generally created the state.
Pragmatic Adoption of the Western Model: (examples: Japan, Turkey)
• Other nations also adopted the western model, for example Japan and Turkey.
• Japan mainly adopted the western model to modernize itself and become “rich
and strong” itself and compete with the West.
• Adopted a more centralized and coercive model based on Prussian system. Abolishment of the Shogunate. Samurai no longer independent, had to commit
themselves to the bureaucracy/national army.
• Sent representatives abroad to study political, legal and technological systems of
Set limits on the power of the emperor and established a parliament a