The State in Times of Statebuilding

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This article explores the effects of the contemporary politics of statebuilding on the non-western state. The main argument is that the corresponding strategies of external institution building and/or the international substitution of state functions entail contradictions that inherently limit the chances of an external strengthening of stateness. Statebuilding is constrained, first, by the statebuilders' own social logics limiting their scope and, second, by the incapacity of statebuilding practices to generate the local legitimacy necessary for stable political rule. Despite these limits, statebuilding discourses and practices nonetheless have a strong influence on the non-western state. The state-in-society conception applied to study these effects suggests that statebuilding results in a simultaneous internationalisation and informalisation of the non-western state, i.e., in its enduring determination by international agencies and its constant bending, circumvention and contestation by informal local practices.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)348-368
JournalCivil Wars
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 01 Dec 2008


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