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The State of State Theory
State Projects, Repression, and Multi-Sites of Power
In The State of State Theory: State Projects, Repression, and Multi-Sites of Power, Glasberg, Willis, and Shannon argue that state theories should be amended to account both for theoretical developments broadly in the contemporary period as well as the multiple sites of power along which the state governs. Using state projects and policies around political economy, sexuality and family, food, welfare policy, racial formation, and social movements as narrative accounts in how the state operates, the authors argue for a complex and intersectional approach to state theory. In doing so, they expand outside of the canon to engage with perspectives within critical race theory, queer theory, and beyond to build theoretical tools for a contemporary and critical state theory capable of providing the foundations for understanding how the state governs, what is at stake in its governance, and, importantly, how people resist and engage with state power.
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What Reviewers Are Saying
The State of State Theory brings together feminist, critical race, and queer theories with globalization literature and anarchist anti-state analysis to advance critical, transformative understanding of the state and society. The authors skillfully take us through a history of state theorising before outlining a novel approach that recognizes the complexities of power while also providing a set of sharp, analytical tools. Using these to present a hard-hitting, persuasive critique of contemporary politics, they expose the injustices and oppressions of the state and shows us how social movements are able to resist and challenge the power relationships and policies that states support, internally and globally. Refusing to make predictions about the future, they set out where social activism might take us. With admirable clarity, they show us how powerful states are but also reminds us of their historical contingency and vulnerability.--Ruth Kinna, Loughborough University This wide-ranging and important study severely critiques pluralism, among other approaches, considered as a theoretical perspective on the state but it rigorously defends pluralism as an ontological and epistemological perspective on the state and state projects. It proposes a multi-site analysis of state structures and their strategic selectivities. The authors explore how state projects emerge from a shifting balance of political forces and how their pursuit is both path-dependent and path-shaping. This highly accessible text offers many illuminating and eminently teachable examples of the proposed approach at the same time as outlining a sophisticated agenda for future research.--Bob Jessop, Lancaster University Finally a true synthesis of advanced state theory and intersectional critiques of domination. Conceptually astute, empirically grounded, and remarkably lucid, this book deserves to occupy the attention of both scholars and activists for years to come.--Uri Gordon, Co-convenor, Anarchist Studies Network The State of State Theory: State Projects, Repression, and Multi-Sites of Power makes a much needed and refreshing contribution to existing sociological theories of the state--a field within political sociology that has become somewhat stagnant and divorced from relevant politics and social movements. The authors build on Jessop's concept of 'state projects' to demonstrate how more appropriately sophisticated, intersectional approaches to critical state theory can and should be employed to analyze the contemporary state. They suggest a new 'multi-sites of power' (MSP) approach to making sense of the state as a structure, institutional force, and political terrain. In this sense, The State of State Theory is an excellent text for the classroom, but also for advocates and organizers who would like to better understand, engage with, and/or resist state policy and practice in the context of global neo-liberal capitalism, waning Western empire, impending climate chaos, and resurgent fascisms.--William Armaline, San Jos State University