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Theories of the Democratic State by John Dryzek, Patrick Dunleavy


Theories of the Democratic State by John Dryzek, Patrick Dunleavy

We live in a world governed by states whose enduring importance and domination of contemporary politics has been strikingly underlined by their renewed activism in the face of a global economic crisis.Yet the very nature of states remains deeply contested, with a range of competing theories offering very different views of how they actually do or should operate. In the past this competition has lead to deep ideological conflict - and even to war. In this major new work, John S. Dryzek and Patrick Dunleavy provide a broad-ranging assessment of classical and contemporary theories of the state, focusing primarily on the democratic state form that has come to dominate modern politics. The authors' starting point is the classical theories of the state: pluralism, elite theory, Marxism and market liberalism. They then turn to the contemporary forms of pluralism prevalent in political science, systematically exploring how they address central issues, such as networked governance, globalization, and changing patterns of electoral and identity politics. They proceed to analyse a range of key contemporary critiques of modern states and democracy that have emerged from feminism, environmentalism, neo-conservatism and post-modernism. Each approach is carefully introduced and analysed as far as possible in relation to a common set of issues and headings. Theories of the Democratic State takes the reader straight to the heart of contemporary issues and debates and, in the process, provides a challenging and distinctive introduction to and reassessment of contemporary political science.


At a time when many are rethinking the relationship between state and market, this is a very useful survey setting the issues in historical and theoretical perspective. Like its predecessor, Dunleavy and O'Leary's Theories of the State, it will be very effective for course use. - Peter A. Hall, Harvard University [A] good introductory book which can be warmly recommended to its intended audience - Edwin Van de Haar, Political Studies

About the Author

JOHN S. DRYZEK is Professor of Political Science and Australian Research Council Federation Fellow in the Research School of Social Sciences, Australian National University. PATRICK DUNLEAVY is Professor of Political Science and Public Policy Chair at the London School of Economics and Politics Science, UK.

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Book Info

Publication date

14th May 2009


John Dryzek, Patrick Dunleavy

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Palgrave an imprint of Palgrave Macmillan


392 pages


Political structures: democracy
Political science & theory



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