The Arab State: Dilemmas of Late Formation, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

The Arab State

Dilemmas of Late Formation, 1st Edition

By Adham Saouli


164 pages | 6 B/W Illus.

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This book explores the conditions of state formation and survival in the Middle East. Based on Historical Sociology, it provides a model for study of the state in the Arab world and a theory to explain its survival.

Examining states as a ‘process’, the author argues that what emerged in the Middle East in the beginning of the twentieth century are ‘social fields’—where states form and deform—and not states as defined by Max Weber. He explores the constitutions of these fields—their cultural, material and political structures—and identifies three stages of state development in which different cases can be located. Capturing the dilemmas that ‘late-forming states’ face as regimes within them cope with domestic and international pressure, the author illustrates several Middle East cases and presents a detailed analysis of state developments in Saudi Arabia and Iraq.

He maintains that more than the domestic characteristics of individual states, state survival in the Middle East is also a function of the anarchic nature of the international (and by extension the regional) states-system.

The first to raise the question on the survivability of the territorial states in the Middle East while engaging with both International Relations and Comparative Politics theories, this book will be of interest to students and scholars of Middle East politics, Comparative Politics and International Relations.


"Saouli is tackling questions that have perplexed political scientists since the advent of the discipline and utilizing Middle Eastern cases to illuminate these conceptual puzzles…The book has many merits. It bridges the divide between comparative politics and international relations to produce research that is broadly relevant to a number of scholarly audiences… its main contribution is to show how "state formation is not a unilinear process" (p. 12). Saouli’s positioning of states on a formation/de-formation continuum is particularly creative (p. 13).…The book will be of interest not only to those studying Arab politics, but also to scholars interested in state weakness, variation in state capacity, and state collapse."

Table of Contents

Prologue 1. States and Social Fields 2. Constructing the Middle East: International Anarchy, Indigenous Responses 3. The Late-forming State: Ontology, Dilemmas and Conditions of Survival 4. Saudi Arabia: The Survival of a Homogeneous State 5. Iraq: The Survival of a Divided State. Conclusion: Why do States Survive in the Middle East?

About the Author

Adham Saouli is Lecturer of Politics and International Relations at the University of Edinburgh. His main research interests are in state formation and behaviour in the Middle East.

About the Series

Routledge Studies in Middle Eastern Politics

This series is concerned with recent political developments in the region. It will have a range of different approaches and include both single authored monographs and edited volumes covering issues such as international relations, foreign intervention, security, political Islam, democracy, ideology and public policy.

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
HISTORY / Middle East / General
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Regional Studies