Proceedings Journal Article — Reevaluating State Formation and Transformation in Light of the Current Debate on ‘Failed States’ — by Mehmet Kucukozer


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There is a wide consensus that the concept of “failed states” is poorly understood. The purpose of this paper is to break with long-standing macro-structural theories of state formation in order to begin the process of articulating a more dynamic theory of “failed states, or “disrupted states” as I prefer to call them. This involves looking at state-society relations through the prism of two intervening variables that interact withone another: state institutions, which constitute the state, and societal institutions, which develop around patterned and recurrent social practicesas they recursively take shape through the interactions of individuals and social groups. The state, through its institutions and its efforts to extract and allocate resources, gives incentives to certain social groups and their institutionalized practices and alters, represses, and excludes others. The process of exchange between state institutions and societal ones is a complex one in which environmental factors (i.e., wars, population movements, social conflict, natural disasters, changes in the economy, etc.) transform the institutions themselves and their relationships. These processes can be observed historically and empirically.

Recommended Citation

Kucukozer, Mehmet. 2005. “Reevaluating State Formation and Transformation in Light of the Current Debate on ‘Failed States’.” Pp. 241-244 in Theories and Praxes of Difference: Revisiting Edward Said in the Age of New Globalizations: Proceedings of the Second Annual Social Theory Forum, April 6-7, 2005 (Discourse of Sociological Practice, Vol. 7, Issues 1&2, Fall/Spring 2005). Double-Issue Guest Editor: Mohammad H. Tamdgidi. Sociology Department, UMass Boston.

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