Trying to make sense of the contemporary debate on state-building: the legitimacy and the institutional approaches on state, state collapse and state-building

Nicolas Lemay-Hebert

Research output: Contribution to conference (unpublished)Paper

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Abstract

Drawing upon the vast contemporary literature on state-building that has emerged since Helman and Ratner’s pioneer article in 1992-1993, this paper identifies two different schools of thought in the discussion, each of which reflects different sociological understandings of the state. The first one, an “institutional approach” closely related to the Weberian conception of the state, focuses on the importance of institutional reconstruction and postulates that state-building activities do not necessarily require a concomitant nation-building effort. The second, a “legitimacy approach” influenced by Durkheimian sociology, recognizes the need to consolidate central state institutions, but puts more emphasis on the importance of socio-political cohesion in the process. The institutional approach focuses on the institutional and physical basis of the state, while the legitimacy approach is more preoccupied with the social contract binding the citizens together. This contemporary debate has practical implications for practitioners in the field of state-building. Indeed, one’s conception of what to rebuild – the state – will necessarily impact the actual process of state-building. This paper tries to bring some clarity to a very confused debate, detailing the rise of the institutional approach and its limits when faced with unforeseen legitimacy issues.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2010
EventPolitical Studies Association Annual Conference, 60th - Edinburgh, United Kingdom
Duration: 29 Mar 20101 Apr 2010
http://www.psa.ac.uk/Proceedings/2010

Conference

ConferencePolitical Studies Association Annual Conference, 60th
Abbreviated titlePSA annual conference
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom
CityEdinburgh
Period29/03/101/04/10
OtherSixty Years of Political Studies: Achievements and Futures
Internet address

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