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.
12. The Modern State
Characteristics, Capabilities, and Consequences
This chapter examines how the nation-state came into being and how it became dominant as a political unit. It first presents a general and streamlined portrait of the state—a concept that sociologists inspired by Max Weber might call an ideal type. In particular, it considers some of the characteristics of a nation-state, including monopoly of legitimate violence, territoriality, sovereignty, plurality, and relation to the population. The chapter proceeds by discussing a more expansive concept of the nation-state, taking into account the role of law, centralized organization, the distinction between state and society, religion and the market, the public sphere, the burden of conflict, and citizenship and nation. The chapter also describes five paths in state formation and concludes with an assessment of three main phases which different European states have followed in somewhat varying sequences: consolidation of rule, rationalization of rule, and expansion of rule.
This chapter examines the impact of colonialism on post-colonial political development. It first provides an overview of the post-colonial world, noting how politics in developing countries are influenced by their pre-colonial heritage as well as colonial and post-colonial experiences. In particular, it considers post-colonial theory, which addresses the continuing impact that colonialism has on post-colonial development. The chapter proceeds by describing pre-colonial states and societies such as Africa, Asia, the Americas, and Australasia, where varying patterns of state formation influenced both the kind of colonization that they experienced and their post-colonial development. It also considers colonial patterns in the post-colonial world and the occurrence of decolonization before concluding with an assessment of the legacy of colonialism to post-colonial states.
Enduring Underdevelopment and Insecurity
This chapter examines Guatemala’s underdevelopment in the context of social, economic, cultural, and political rights. It first provides an introduction to poverty and multiple inequalities in Guatemala before discussing patterns of state formation in the country. It then considers the 1996 peace accords, which represented an attempt to reverse historical trends, to ‘engineer development’, and to secure the human rights of all Guatemalans. It also explores human security and development in Guatemala and identifies the main contemporary causes of the country’s persistent underdevelopment: a patrimonialist and predatory state underpinned by a strong, conservative private sector, an extremely weak party system, the continued influence of active and retired members of the armed forces in politics, entrenched counterinsurgency logics, and the increasing presence of transnational organized crime.