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The State as Cultural Practice$
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Mark Bevir and R. A. W. Rhodes

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780199580750

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199580750.001.0001

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Rethinking the State

Rethinking the State

(p.81) Chapter 5 Rethinking the State
The State as Cultural Practice

Rhodes Bevir

Oxford University Press

This chapter takes the concepts explained in Chapter 4 and applies them to present-day approaches to the changing state. Such changes are typically described as a shift to governance. First-wave studies of governance typically describe changes in the state and its links to civil society as akin to a differentiated polity. This polity was characterized by a hollowed-out state, a core executive fumbling to pull rubber levers of control, and, most notably, a massive spread of policy networks. Second-wave studies of governance herald a return to the state with the idea of metagovernance. The chapter pronounces the death of both narratives, because there is no single account or theory of contemporary governance, only the differing constructions of several traditions. Therefore, the chapter identifies a third wave of governance that focuses on the stateless state. The state arises out of the diverse actions and practices inspired by varied beliefs and traditions. The state, or pattern of rule, is the contingent product of diverse actions and political struggles informed by the beliefs of agents rooted in traditions. We identify new research topics suggested by our decentred analysis under the headings of the ‘3Rs’ of rule, rationalities, and resistance.

Keywords:   governance, network governance, metagovernance, decentred governance, differentiated polity, policy networks, the stateless state, rule, rationalities, resistance

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