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About this book

Despite the increasing globalization of many aspects of social, economic and political life, the state remains the fundamental element of contemporary governance. This fully revised and extended new edition provides a broad-ranging introduction to the origins, role and future of the modern state tracing out how significant shifts in state capacity came about in relation to developments in economic, political and ideological power.

Table of Contents

1. The Modern State

Abstract
This chapter discusses the nature of the state, emphasizing the importance of the relationship the state has with society. This is normally discussed in terms of state ‘autonomy’, but more useful is the notion of interdependence. Along with governmental coherence and power projection, interdependence is one of the key elements of state capacity, which is the principal focus of this book. Capacity is in turn associated with infrastructural power. The state has been paramount during recent decades. The conditions within which millions of people lived were shaped by the state, the role it sought to pursue and the ability it had to pursue that role. The centrality of the state is evident as soon as we look at some of the most important developments of the last century. In the communist countries, states forced through rapid-paced programmes of societal transformation that turned in one case a backward partly industrialized society into a nuclear superpower within 40 years.
Graeme Gill

2. The Origins of State Capacity

Abstract
Despite often high levels of formal centralization, ancient states did not have well-developed capacity. Most were reliant on indirect administration exercised through locally based elites and therefore had limited interdependence with society. This chapter shows how this situation applied in Mediterranean city-states (Athens and Rome) and the Roman Empire, but not in China. However, even in China the state’s aim was coordination and regulation of society rather than cooperation with it. The first major attempts to organize state capacity occurred in the ancient states. This chapter will concentrate on the Greek polis (Athens), Republican Rome, the Roman Empire and China from the emergence of the Qin until the end of the Han Empire. Clearly a large part of the globe is omitted here: the city-states and empires of the Near East, Egypt, the Mauryan and Mughal states of India, the Islamic Caliphates, the Inca, Aztec and Maya in South and Central America, the Ankole state in Africa, Angkor in South East Asia and the Polynesian polities to mention only a few. (For one survey, see Claessen & Skalnik 1978.) And even in the chosen regions, not all states appear.
Graeme Gill

3. Building Capacity, East and West

Abstract
Through a comparative study of the shift from feudal to early modern state in Europe (chiefly England and France) and the Chinese and Byzantine empires, this chapter shows the difficulties polities had in developing state capacity. The ability to develop capacity was much greater in China and Byzantium where the feudalism of Western Europe was not present, yet it was the state form that arose out of feudalism that came to dominate the world. The feudal legacy is shown in the England– France comparison. The origins of the modern state have been seen to lie in feudal and early modern (tenth- to eighteenth-century) Western Europe. This is where the state form that was later to be exported across the world emerged. While this basic view is accurate, it is also incomplete. The ability of some states in this region to develop the sort of capacity that enabled them to grow into the states we see in the twenty-first century was crucial in shaping the course of both state development and international history. But this was not the only region where states were able to develop this sort of capacity.
Graeme Gill

4. The State, Capitalism and Industrialization

Abstract
By the second half of the eighteenth century, despite the continued presence of the Russian, Habsburg and Ottoman empires in Eastern Europe and the diversity of small states in what would become Germany and Italy, the territorial state was becoming the dominant political actor in Europe. Increasingly central government was becoming more complex, especially in the non-absolutist states where the court played a much more restricted role. However the state’s capacity to project central rule into the localities remained limited. The infrastructure did not exist to enable the construction of a bureaucratic hierarchy extending deep into society. Even in constitutional England, where central rule relied upon the cooperation of local notables tied to the centre by ideology and the Parliament, the institutional means did not exist for the exercise of intrusive controls by the centre nor for a coherent process of interdependence between state and society. In the nineteenth century the means that would enable both of these would begin to be built. This was associated with the rise of industrialization. This chapter explains how the state in the West was influential in the process of industrialization, and how industrialization gave the state the means it had earlier lacked both to project power into society and to act cooperatively with society.
Graeme Gill

5. States and International Systems

Abstract
The focus of this chapter is the international context of state building, in particular the way in which different types of international system affected state development with primary concentration on the European and East Asian systems. In doing so, it also canvasses the arguments about the impact of war on the development of the state, arguing that it did not always have the rationalizing, state-building effects that many had earlier attributed to it. Hitherto state development has been treated as an endogenous process, but this was not so. Its course and contours were both shaped by the international context within which states existed. This has long been recognized in terms of the way that involvement in war shaped domestic development, and this will be discussed below. But also important has been the involvement of states in international systems. Rarely has a state, even the earliest, survived without developing a network of relations with similar units in close geographical proximity (e.g. on Sumer, see Watson 1992: ch.2; and Buzan & Little 2000: ch.8), and this clearly influenced individual states’ domestic development.
Graeme Gill

6. The State Embedded: Twentieth-Century Alternatives?

Abstract
This chapter is devoted to an analysis of the two main types of states in the twentieth century: the Western liberal welfare state and the communist state. Both types of states were able to penetrate much further into society than ever before, reflecting the improved tools for this emanating from industrial and technological development. But they did it in different ways: the welfare state in a cooperative mode, the communist in a directive, administrative mode. This difference was crucial for the survival of the former and collapse of the latter. Industrialization and the changes associated with it, especially mass education and urbanization, underpinned the massive expansion of state capacity during the twentieth century which was reflected in the embedding of the state even more in society than it had been before (for a major study, see Evans 1995). The principal form this took was the extension of state activity into spheres of life that formerly had at best been only marginal to state action.
Graeme Gill

7. State Capacity and Governance in a Globalized World

Abstract
In the second half of the twentieth century, the territorial state was clearly the dominant form of organization on the globe. All states, including former imperial powers, former colonies and those never engaged in the imperial adventure, adopted the broad outlines of the state as it had developed in Western Europe. Even the communist states shared many of the forms of the Western liberal democratic state. But from the last decades of the twentieth century, the nature of the ongoing process of globalization changed. Instead of being associated with the territorial state, it became deterritorialized, and thereby came to be seen by many to threaten the state’s very existence (e.g. Harvey 1989; Giddens 1990; Waters 1995). Just when it had appeared to become dominant, the state was seen to be under mortal threat. This chapter evaluates how real such fears are. The nature of that challenge and its severity are surveyed, before the chapter argues that fundamental to the state’s ability to continue to play a leading role is the nature of its interdependence with society, both domestic and international. This is discussed in terms of governance.
Graeme Gill
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