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12. The Modern State  

Characteristics, Capabilities, and Consequences

Anna Persson

This chapter examines the concept of the modern state in a developing world context. More specifically, it considers the characteristics and capabilities that define the modern state and the extent to which the state can be regarded as an autonomous actor with the potential to influence development outcomes. After providing an overview of the role of the state as a potential driver of development, the chapter discusses statehood in the contemporary world and how the evolution of the modern state can be understood. It then asks how different patterns of state formation affect the ways that states further consolidate and develop. It also explains the distinction between the ‘weak’ state found in the majority of developing countries and the ‘strong’ state typically found in the industrialized parts of the world. Finally, it tackles the question of institutional reform from ‘the outside’ and its implications for development.


Marina Ottaway

This chapter examines the concept of civil society. During the 1990s, civil society was a relatively obscure concept familiar mostly to scholars of Marxism. It then evolved into a mainstream term freely used by social science analysts in general, and by practitioners in the international assistance field in particular. Several factors contributed to these developments, including the growing interest in the United States and many European countries in promoting democracy abroad at that time. The chapter first defines civil society before discussing traditional vs modern civil society. It then considers the rise of civil society as an entity separate from the broader society and from the state, along with the state-civil society relations in the developing world. Finally, it explores how the concept of civil society became an important part of discussions of democratization.