‘Overview: This book is offering a state-in-society perspective. The essential arguments are as follows:
* States vary in their effectiveness based on their ties to society (see Evans)
* The concept of ‘the State’ must be disagreggated
* Social forces, like States, are contingent on specific empirical conditions
* States and other social forces may be mutually empowering – power is not a zero-sum game
Chapter 1 – Summary: For Migdal, “patterns of domination are determined by key struggles spread through society\’s multiple arenas of domination and opposition.” He disaggregates the state into four levels:
* The trenches – officials, tax collectors, etc
* Dispersed field offices – Bureaus, legislative bodies
* The Agency’s Central Offices – ‘Nerve Centres’ in the capital
* The Commanding Heights – Top Executive Leadership
These levels interact, and each level has different motivations/objectives, and differs in context, thus there should be no expectation of a cohesive coherent response to any issue.
Migdal also has a different view of society. Like his other work, he emphasizes the fact that society is a powerful actor in its own right. Migdal calls the places where social forces in society (civil society, the state, etc.) meet and engage with each other arenas. He argues that power or social control can expand in order to extend a social force’s domination in one of three ways: 1) within an arena; 2) arenas themselves can grow to incorporate a larger share of the population / larger territory; 3) a social force can use the resources it garners in any one arena to dominate in other arenas, with different sets of social forces.
Migdal is focusing on the fact that interactions between state and society are mutually reinforcing. The outcome of these struggles between social forces is one of the following:
* Total transformation (social forces absorbed by state)
* State incorporation of existing social forces
* Existing social forces incorporation of the state
* The state may fail altogether in its attempt at penetrating society
Most cases fall in the middle, thus scholars need to ask if and how the struggles in various arenas carry over to other areas and, possibly, to domination of society as a whole.
Methodology: Migdal calls this approach a new ‘anthropology of the state.’
Kohli and Shue – Conclusion – Summary: The framework presented stresses the interconnectedness of state and society. General themes that emerge:
* Strength of the state is more than simple attributes such as degree of centralization, etc. It is relative
* Focusing on the cases of engagement/disengagment between state and society is fruitful
* The mutual importance of state and society (see Chazan chapter if interested)
* Research must not be state nor society centred, but appreciate their interconnected nature