Oslo Summer School in Comparative Social Science Studies 1998

State and Society in Development

Main Discipline: Sociology
Lecturer: Professor Peter Evans,
Institution: University of California, Berkeley
Dates: August 3rd - 7th 1998

The role of the state in development has been a crucial and hotly contested subject of debate in the study of development for decades. Despite the current global dominance of «neo-liberal» development models, narrow economist analyses, which neglect the central place of the state among the institutional foundations of capital accumulation and economic growth, are no longer in intellectual ascendance. Even multilateral organizations like the World Bank now acknowledge the centrality of the state?s role. At the same time, older «state centric» models which focused primarily on state autonomy and capacity have given way to analyses that focus more on state-society relations.

This course uses a variety of country and sectoral cases to critically explore general theoretical and analytical trends. It starts from a basic institutionalist perspective which highlights the centrality of the state. The evolution from a «state centric» to a «state-society relations» perspective is then traced. Then basic distinctions between different types of states are set up. The concept of «embedded autonomy» is used to analyse developmental states, focusing particularly on East Asian cases and on the informatics sector. The course then deals more generally with state-society relations, and with ways in which recent changes in the global political economy might require revised theoretical perspectives.

Basic Readings

The lecturer
Peter B. Evans is professor of Sociology, University of California, Berkeley: He received his Ph.D. from Harvard University, 1971. He has published widely on comparative development theory, technology policies and the nature of third world states. His most recent book is Embedded Autonomy: States and Industrial Transformation (Princeton 1995).

He also co-edited Double-Edged Diplomacy: International Bargaining and Domestic Politics (with Harold Jacobson and Robert Putnam, Berkeley 1993), High Technology and Third World Industrialization: Brazilian Computer Policy in Comparative Perspective (with Claudio Frischtak and Paulo Tigre, Berkeley 1992), and Bringing the State Back In: New Perspectives on the State as Institution and Social Actor (with Dietrich Rueschemeyer and Theda Skocpol, Cambridge 1985). He has published a large number of articles, e.g. in World Development, World Politics, International Organization, and other scholarly journals.