The State is a Multi-System: Understanding the Oneness and Diversity of Government

Research output: A Conference proceeding or a Chapter in BookConference contribution


The contemporary state has been the focus of considerable controversy ? about whether it exists and has ontological status (or not); about how it may be delineated; and about the sense in which it operates as a unity or some form of integrated agency in relation to civil society, and viz a viz other states. I argue that the modern state in liberal democratic societies can be understood as a multi-system - the complex amalgam of ten different forms of state, which are held together or integrated by six main attractive and inter-connecting factors. States additionally cohere because of their endogenous dependence on a particular economic system, interactions with national culture, and the generic impact of state efficacy.If we are to make progress in analysing states, both political science and the social sciences more generally need to move on from previously over-simplistic concepts of what the unity of the state entails. On the one hand, to deny the existence of the state because of institutional multiplicity, or a diversity of organizational forms, is crude and ungrounded. On the other hand, traditional statism cannot be rescued by emphasizing just one form of the state, or over-weighting a particular integrative force. Instead we need to recognize the simultaneous systemic oneness and empirical diversity of the state as a multi-system.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publication2014 UK Political Studies Association Conference
Place of PublicationManchester, United Kingdom
PublisherUK Political Studies Association
Number of pages63
Publication statusPublished - 2014
Externally publishedYes
EventUK Political Studies Association Annual Conference - Manchester, United Kingdom
Duration: 14 Apr 201416 Apr 2014


ConferenceUK Political Studies Association Annual Conference
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom


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