The Political Invention of Fragile States: The Power of Ideas, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

The Political Invention of Fragile States

The Power of Ideas, 1st Edition

Edited by Sonja Grimm, Nicolas Lemay-Hebert, Olivier Nay


152 pages

Look Inside
Purchasing Options:$ = USD
Paperback: 9781138209725
pub: 2016-10-11
SAVE ~$10.39
Hardback: 9781138801530
pub: 2014-10-24
SAVE ~$35.00
eBook (VitalSource) : 9781315754888
pub: 2016-04-14
from $25.98

FREE Standard Shipping!


This book investigates the emergence, the dissemination and the reception of the notion of ‘state fragility’. It analyses the process of conceptualisation, examining how the ‘fragile states’ concept was framed by policy makers to describe reality in accordance with their priorities in the fields of development and security. Contributors investigate the instrumental use of the ‘state fragility’ label in the legitimisation of Western policy interventions in countries facing violence and profound poverty. They also emphasise the agency of actors ‘on the receiving end’, describing how the elites and governments in so-called ‘fragile states’ have incorporated and reinterpreted the concept to fit their own political agendas. A first set of articles examines the role played by the World Bank, the OECD, the European Union and the G7+ in the transnational diffusion of the concept, which is understood as a critical element in the new discourse on international aid and security. A second set of papers employs three case studies (Sudan, Indonesia and Uganda) to explore the processes of appropriation, reinterpretation and the strategic use of the ‘fragile state’ concept.

This book was originally published as a special issue of Third World Quarterly.

Table of Contents

1. ‘Fragile States’: introducing a political concept 2. International Organisations and the Production of Hegemonic Knowledge: how the World Bank and the OECD helped invent the Fragile State Concept 3. The OECD’s discourse on fragile states: expertise and the normalisation of knowledge production 4. The European Union’s ambiguous concept of ‘state fragility’ 5. Measuring and managing ‘state fragility’: the production of statistics by the World Bank, Timor-Leste and the g7+ 6. How Sudan’s ‘rogue’ state label shaped US responses to the Darfur conflict: what’s the problem and who’s in charge? 7. State disintegration and power politics in post-Suharto Indonesia 8. When it pays to be a ‘fragile state’: Uganda’s use and abuse of a dubious concept 9. State fragility and failure as wicked problems: beyond naming and taming

About the Editors

Sonja Grimm is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Politics and Public Administration, University of Konstanz, Germany. She publishes on democratization in post-conflict societies and democracy promotion and has co-edited special issues of Democratization on "War and Democratization" (2008) and "Do All Good Things Go Together? Conflicting Objectives in Democracy Promotion" (2012). More about her can be found at [].

Nicolas Lemay-Hébert is a Senior Lecturer in the International Development Department, University of Birmingham, UK. He is the co-editor of the Journal of Intervention and Statebuilding (with Florian Kuhn). His most recent book is "Semantics of Statebuilding: Language, Meanings and Sovereignty" (2014; co-edited with N. Onuf, V. Rakic, and P. Bojanic).

Olivier Nay is a Professor of Political Science at the University of Paris 1 - Panthéon Sorbonne, France. He is the Vice-president of the French Association of Political Science and the Chair of the Political Science section at the National Academic Council. He specializes on the reform of international organizations, bureaucratic change and the transnational diffusion of policy ideas. Please see [].

About the Series


THIRDWORLDS will focus on the political economy, development and cultures of those parts of the world that have experienced the most political, social, and economic upheaval, and which have faced the greatest challenges of the postcolonial world under globalisation: poverty, displacement and diaspora, environmental degradation, human and civil rights abuses, war, hunger, and disease.

THIRDWORLDS serves as a signifier of oppositional emerging economies and cultures ranging from Africa, Asia, Latin America, Middle East, and even those ‘Souths’ within a larger perceived North, such as the U.S. South and Mediterranean Europe. The study of these otherwise disparate and discontinuous areas, known collectively as the Global South, demonstrates that as globalisation pervades the planet, the south, as a synonym for subalterity, also transcends geographical and ideological frontiers.

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings: