Strong Societies and Weak States: Your list has reached the maximum number of items. Interesting read on what makes societies strong or weak. Cancel Forgot your password? Economic Development and Cultural Change, v40 n1 In Asia, Africa, and Latin America, state institutions have established a permanent presence among the populations of even the most remote villages.
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Full text - pages Summary Why have some states struggled to fashion state-society relations, neutralise opposition, gain predominance, and achieve social control, whereas others have been strong in this regard? This book presents a model for understanding state capabilities in the Third World based on state-society relations. The distribution of social control in society that emerges as a result of this conflict between societies and states is the main determinant of whether states become strong or weak.
Governments acquire the tools of political influence through the mobilisation of human and material resources for state action. Informal and formal organisations all have a variety of sanctions and rewards systems of rules — both material and symbolic. Strategies for social control need to include both material incentives and coercion, and the manipulation of symbols of how social life should be ordered. Lack of state social control means understanding resistance to social control.
Societies are often characterised by conflict among organisations offering different rules. Strong societies can be either highly centralised in state power or fragmented across several social organisations. Such conditions can enfeeble the state. Where societies have been web-like and where social control has been fragmented among numerous organisations, states have faced formidable barriers in seeing their policies through. Levels of state social control are reflected in three indicators: compliance, participation and legitimation.
These are used by state and non-state organisations alike to seek social control. Strong states emerged only in the wake of severe social disruption. Social control cannot occur without exogenous factors first creating catastrophic conditions that rapidly and deeply undermine existing strategies of survival; the bases of social control.
The two key exogenous factors are 1 spread of the world economy and 2 colonial rule. War and revolution, closely related to mass migration, are 20th century examples of dislocations that have weakened old forms of social control and allowed new ones to emerge.
This requires an elaborate set of institutions, but creating strong state agencies risks creating powerful sub-organisations which within the state itself can become an oligopoly of mobilisational capacity. State leaders therefore risk creating potential power centres they cannot control. The legacy of fragmented social control continues to constrain states, and the prospects for the consolidation of the state in parts of society which are fragmented is slim. The politics of survival at the top and the triangle of accommodation at the bottom reinforce social fragmentation.
Source Migdal, J.
Strong Societies and Weak States: State-Society Relations and State Capabilities in the Third World
Joel S. Migdal