State - Bringing the State in, Skopol.docx

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Western University
Political Science
Political Science 1020E
Bruce Morrison

BRINGING THE STATE BACK IN: STRATEGIES OF ANALYSIS IN CURRENT RESEARCH – SKOCPOL  Comparative-historical investigators have examined the formation of national states, the disintegration and rebuilding of states in social revolutions and the impact of states on class formation, ethnic relations, women’s rights and modes of social protest  Economic historians and political economists have theorizes about states as institutions of property rights and as regulators and distorters of markets  Despite important exceptions, society-centered ways of explaining politics and governmental activities were especially characteristic of the pluralist and structure-functionalist perspectives predominant in political science and sociology  Government was viewed primarily as an arena within which economic interest groups or normative social movements contended or allied with one another to shape the making of public policy decisions  Those decisions were understood to be allocations of benefits among demanding groups  Political development ended up having more to do with concrete international and domestic struggles over state building than with any inherent general logical of socio-economic differentiation  Neo Marxist believe that at base states are inherently shaped by classes or class struggles and function to preserve and expand modes of production  Economic change seemed spontaneous and progressive, and the decisions of governmental legislative bodies appeared to be the basic stuff of politics  Social scientists are now willing to offer state-centered explanations, not just of totalitarian countries and late industrializes but of Britain and the US themselves  Weber – administrative, legal, extractive and coercive organizations arethe core of any state  The state must be considered as more than the government- it is the continuous systems that attempt not only to structure relationships between civil society and public authority in a polity but also to structure many crucial relationships within civil society as well  Thinking of states as organization controlling territories leads us away from basic features common to all polities and toward consideration of the various ways in which state structures and actions are conditioned by historically changing transnational contexts  States conceived as organizations claiming control over territories and people may formulate and pursue goals that are not simply reflective of the demands or interests of social groups, classes or society – this is what is usually meant by stat
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