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Cover Politics

2. Politics and the State  

This chapter discusses the importance of the state and sovereignty to the study of politics. It first provides an empirical typology of the state, from the minimalist night-watchman state to the totalitarian state, before considering various theories of the state such as Marxism, pluralism, elitism, and the New Right. Two key general points about these competing theories are examined. First, an organizing theme relates to what each of these theories say about the distribution of power. Second, the theories can be analysed in both empirical and normative terms. The chapter concludes with a discussion of the claim that the state has significantly declined in importance, mainly as a result of economic globalization.

Chapter

Cover Introduction to Politics

2. Politics and the State  

Robert Garner

This chapter explains why the state and sovereignty are relevant to the study of politics. It first provides an empirical typology of the state, ranging from the minimalist night-watchman state, approximated to by nineteenth-century capitalist regimes at one end of the spectrum, to the totalitarian state of the twentieth century at the other. It then examines the distribution of power in the state by focusing on three major theories of the state: pluralism, elitism, Marxism, and the New Right theory. It also considers different views about what the role of the state ought to be, from the minimalist state recommended by adherents of classical liberalism to the pursuit of distinctive social objectives as recommended, in particular, by proponents of communitarianism. Finally, it discusses empirical and normative challenges to the state and asks whether the state’s days are numbered.

Chapter

Cover Introduction to Politics

2. Politics and the State  

Robert Garner

This chapter explains why the state and sovereignty are relevant to the study of politics. It first provides an empirical typology of the state, ranging from the minimalist night-watchman state, approximated to by nineteenth-century capitalist regimes at one end of the spectrum, to the totalitarian state of the twentieth century at the other. It then examines the distribution of power in the state by focusing on three major theories of the state: pluralism, elitism, Marxism, as well as New Right theory. The chapter seeks to demonstrate that the theories of the state identified can also be critiqued normatively, so that pluralism, for instance, can be challenged for its divisive character, as exemplified by identity politics. It then goes on to review different views about what the role of the state ought to be, from the minimalist state recommended by adherents of classical liberalism, to the pursuit of distinctive social objectives as recommended, in particular, by proponents of communitarianism. Finally, it discusses empirical and normative challenges to the state and asks whether the state’s days are numbered.