Chapter

Rethinking the State

Rhodes Bevir

in The State as Cultural Practice

Published in print April 2010 | ISBN: 9780199580750
Published online May 2010 | e-ISBN: 9780191723179 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199580750.003.0005
Rethinking the State

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This chapter takes the concepts explained in Chapter 4 and applies them to present-day approaches to the changing state. Such changes are typically described as a shift to governance. First-wave studies of governance typically describe changes in the state and its links to civil society as akin to a differentiated polity. This polity was characterized by a hollowed-out state, a core executive fumbling to pull rubber levers of control, and, most notably, a massive spread of policy networks. Second-wave studies of governance herald a return to the state with the idea of metagovernance. The chapter pronounces the death of both narratives, because there is no single account or theory of contemporary governance, only the differing constructions of several traditions. Therefore, the chapter identifies a third wave of governance that focuses on the stateless state. The state arises out of the diverse actions and practices inspired by varied beliefs and traditions. The state, or pattern of rule, is the contingent product of diverse actions and political struggles informed by the beliefs of agents rooted in traditions. We identify new research topics suggested by our decentred analysis under the headings of the ‘3Rs’ of rule, rationalities, and resistance.

Keywords: governance; network governance; metagovernance; decentred governance; differentiated polity; policy networks; the stateless state; rule; rationalities; resistance

Chapter.  7830 words. 

Subjects: Comparative Politics

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