We live in a world governed by states. The whole of the Earth's liveable surface and all of the world's people are parcelled up between states. States' performance (or failure) and their relationships with one another are still key motors of global history. Backed by their state's capacity to raise taxes and finance debts, governments remain fundamental guarantors of markets, economic life and financial system stability in every nation.
Yet the very nature of states remains deeply contested, between different and competing theories of how they actually do or should operate. In the past this competition has lead to deep ideological conflicts - and even to war. In this major new work, John S. Dryzek and Patrick Dunleavy expound and reassess contemporary theories of the state, focusing primarily on the democratic state form that has come to dominate modern politics worldwide.
Four classical theories of the state - pluralism, elite theory, Marxism and market liberalism - provide the foundations for the analysis. The authors then focus on the contemporary forms of pluralism that dominate political science, showing how they address critical contemporary issues, such as networked governance, globalization, and the changing patterns of electoral and identity politics. Next they analyse a range of powerful critiques of modern states and liberal democracy that have emerged from feminism, environmentalism, neo-conservatism and post-modernism. Each approach is carefully introduced, and accessibly and vividly analysed in relation to a common set of issues and headings.
Theories of the Democratic State takes readers straight to the heart of contemporary issues and debates. In the process,it provides a challenging, distinctive and wide-ranging introduction to and reassessment of contemporary political science.