Paradigm Lost: State Theory Reconsidered

Paradigm Lost: State Theory Reconsidered

Paradigm Lost: State Theory Reconsidered

Paradigm Lost: State Theory Reconsidered


Analyzes the ongoing relevance of a revitalized state theory to today’s political debates.

This volume seeks to enrich and complicate current political debates by bringing state theory back to the fore and assessing its relevance to the social phenomena and thought of our day.

Contributors: Clyde W. Barrow, Richard A. Cloward, Adriano Nervo Codato, Bob Jessop, Andreas Kalyvas, Rhonda F. Levine, Leo Panitch, Renato Monseff Perissinotto, Frances Fox Piven, Paul Thomas, Constantine Tsoukalas.


In the Marxist scheme, the “ruling class” of capitalist society is that
class which owns and controls the means of production and which is
able, by virtue of the economic power thus conferred upon it, to use
the state as its instrument for the domination of society.


The state has the particular function of constituting the factor of
cohesion between the levels of a social formation. This is precisely
the meaning of the Marxist conception of the state as a factor of
“order”… as the regulating factor of its global equilibrium as a


What Is the Miliband-Poulantzas Debate?

The publication of Nicos Poulantzas's Pouvoir politique et classes sociales (1968) and Ralph Miliband's The State in Capitalist Society (1969) initiated a return to the state in political science and sociology (Easton 1981; Evans, Rueschemeyer, and Skocpol 1985; Comninel 1987; Therborn 1987; Almond 1988), but it simultaneously fractured Marxist political theory into pieces that may never be reassembled (Barrow 1993; Alford and Friedland 1985; Carnoy 1984; Jessop 1982). Miliband observes that prior to the publication of his book, Marxists had “made little notable attempt to confront the question of the state” since Lenin. The one exception to this claim was Poulantzas's Pouvoir politique et classes sociales, which . . .

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