State in Society: Studying How States and Societies Transform and Constitute One Another

State in Society: Studying How States and Societies Transform and Constitute One Another

State in Society: Studying How States and Societies Transform and Constitute One Another

State in Society: Studying How States and Societies Transform and Constitute One Another

Synopsis

The essays in this book trace the development of Joel Migdal's "state-in-society" approach. The essays situate the approach within the classic literature in political science, sociology, and related disciplines but present a new model for understanding state-society relations. It allies parts of the state and groups in society against other such coalitions, determines how societies and states create and maintain distinct ways of structuring day-to-day life, the nature of the rules that govern people's behavior, whom they benefit and whom they disadvantage, which sorts of elements unite people and which divide them, and what shared meaning people hold about their relations with others and their place in the world.

Excerpt

This introductory chapter frames the ideas that have preoccupiedD me over the past two decades, when the remaining essays in this book were written. I have four primary goals here. First, I want to present a concise statement of the state-in-society approach that is the centerpiece of the book, especially in light of the literature that I have drawn on - and have found wanting. My second aim is the principal one for this chapter: I present a new definition of the state in place of Max Weber's widely used one, which I believe has led scholars down sterile paths. My hope is that the new definition will offer social scientists a better, more grounded way to conceive of the state and will suggest new, innovative lines of inquiry to them. Third, implicitly these essays reject what has become standard method in political science and related social science disciplines. I want to spell out the point of how better to approach comparative research and state why I think political scientists should abandon the blinders that have limited their work. And, finally, I want to show how a state-in-society perspective can provide new and exciting answers to well-studied issues in comparative studies by recounting the work of several young scholars who have used the approach.

State-in-Society as an Approach to Studying
Domination and Change

The themes explored in the essays in this book, domination and change, are by no means original. Identifying and analyzing patterns of domination - the recurring ways in which some use violence, threats, and other means to make others behave in ways they would not have otherwise chosen - and when and why those patterns change have preoccupied . . .

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