The State as Cultural Practice

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OUP Oxford, Apr 8, 2010 - Political Science - 260 pages
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The State as Cultural Practice offers a fully worked out account of the authors' distinctive interpretive approach to political science. It challenges the new institutionalism, probably the most significant present-day strand in both American and British political science. It moves away from such notions as 'bringing the state back in', 'path dependency' and modernist empiricism. Instead, Bevir and Rhodes argue for an anti-foundational analysis, ethnographic and historical methods, and a decentred approach that rejects any essentialist definition of the state and espouses the idea of politics as cultural practice. The book has three aims: to develop an anti-foundational theory of the state to develop a new research agenda around the topics of rule, rationalities, and resistance by exploring empirical shifts and debates about the changing nature of the state to show how anti-foundational theory leads us to see them differently. Bevir and Rhodes argue for the idea of 'the stateless state' or the state as meaning-in-action. So, the state is neither monolithic nor a causal agent. It consists solely of the contingent actions of specific individuals; of diverse beliefs about the public sphere, about authority and power, which are constructed differently in contending traditions. Continuity and change are products of people inheriting traditions and modifying them in response to dilemmas. A decentred approach explores the limits to the state and seeks to develop a more diverse view of state authority and its exercise. In short, political scientists need to bring people back in to the study of the state.

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Preface and Acknowledgements
Chapter 1Introduction
Part IState Theory
Chapter 2The New Institutionalism
Chapter 6Ministerial Ruling
Chapter 7Managerial Rationalities
Chapter 8Living Westminster Traditions
Chapter 9Bringing People Back In

Chapter 3Antifoundationalism
Chapter 4Interpretation
Chapter 5Rethinking the State
Part IIRule Rationalities and Resistance
Chapter 10Conclusions
Name Index
Subject Index

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About the author (2010)

Mark Bevir is a Professor of Political Science at the University of California, Berkeley. R. A. W. Rhodes is Professor of Government (Research) at the University of Southampton (UK); Adjunct Professor of Government and Public Policy at Griffith University (Brisbane, Australia); and Emeritus Professor of Politics at the University of Newcastle (UK).

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