Mark J. Smith
In the last two decades, objects of analysis such as 'the state' have increasingly been seen as uncertain and contested theoretical concepts. The very idea of the state as a recognisable object of analysis has been questioned. In this important work, Mark J Smith presents the argument that existing theories of the state can be taken seriously as a way of addressing the present problems of understanding governance. The book raises important questions to highlight how existing theoretical approaches can provide useful tools for understanding contemporary political developments. For example: Has governance deserted 'the state' as traditionally understood? Was the state always the primary focus of attention in state theory in the first place? Against this background, Smith explores three well known approaches in contemporary political and social theory: neo-pluralism, neo-liberalism and neo-marxism, and examines the work of thinkers such as Dahl, Hayek and Jessop. This work acts as a lively and accessible introduction to the way in which state theorists see society and the state.
Furthermore, by exploring the connections between substantive claims about the relationship between state and society, and the assumptions and values at work in state theories, this book makes a vital contribution to our understanding of both political theory and political 'reality'.