The Problem of the State provides a new perspective on what the social and political sciences can contribute to understandings of the state and the ambivalent place it occupies in our collective affairs. Distinguishing two broad conceptual and methodological approaches to addressing the problem of how to study the state empirically rather than theoretically - the constitutionalist and constructionist positions – the author reviews the grounds and limits of both to reveal their common assumption: that it is up to the social and political sciences to define what the problem of the state is. Building on insights from Marx, Wittgenstein and Ethnomethodology, this book frees the study of the state from the limiting assumptions of common approaches and advocates a return of the problem to its proper environment, in social and political practice.
Table of Contents
1. The Problem of the State in the Social and Political Sciences
2. The Matter Thereof and the Artificer – Hobbes, Weber and the Constitutionalist Approach
3. The Government of Men and Things – Foucault’s Radical Critique of Constitutionalism
4. Problematising the State – Historical and Ethnographic Studies of State Practices
5. The Limits of Problematisation – Historical Studies and the Divorce of Discourse from Practice
6. Fictions of Practice – Anthropological Accounts and the Fabrication of the Real
7. The Problem of the State Beyond Constitution and Construction
8. What We Talk About When We Talk About the State
Michael Mair is Senior Lecturer in Sociology at the University of Liverpool, UK.