Dissertation Abstracts

The Socioeconomic Origins of the Developmental State

Author: Jawied Nawabi, nawaj161@newschool.edu
Department: Sociology
University: New School for Social Research, United States
Supervisor: Dr. Andrew Arato
Year of completion: 2014
Language of dissertation: English

Keywords: sociology of development , states/institutions , land reform , socioeconomics
Areas of Research: Social Transformations and Sociology of Development , Local-Global Relations , Political Sociology


A main unit of our lives is governed by what we know as the state. Beginning from hunter and gathering societies, to kingdoms and empires, to present day modern states, the world’s principle organizing institution has evolved into a state. Depending on which state we reside in, our level of education attainment is determined, the level of social inequality or equality, poverty, our health, and even the amount of wealth we accumulate are determined. As such, how the state functions, who runs it, what are its agents of change, and how it can gather the resources, of what amount and why, are critical factors in shaping the condition of a population. This dissertation discusses three varieties of states that are evident in the world today; predatory states, developmental states, and intermediate states. The central question is how do these three varieties of states arise? Since the concept of the modern state only arose during the time of European state formation in the ____, this dissertation will formally investigate this period in British, French, and Spanish histories to draw the main characteristics of what made them so successful. The main finding is when European rulers were able weaken the power of large landowners by co-opting them into a state institution which would provide them with reliable services, they were able to create a functioning state bureaucracy and administration dedicated to the development of the whole state without the obstruction of landlord interests. Applying this model to the state formation of predatory and intermediate states, I find that where the state is unable to transform itself into a developmental state, it is usually the case of large wealth inequalities, especially in the form of land held by landowners, who coerce themselves into state institutions that only furthers their own interest at the expense of all others. This is evident between the northern and southern state administrations of India and Brazil. I also use the case of South Korea, as a non-European country that was able to become a developmental state. The solution hence, is to either eliminate or device strategic incentives to reduce wealth inequalities, especially that of landowners, who transmit their coercive power to influence state administration.

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