In Chapters 4 and 7, we looked at the ways in which Southern governments are located within an international political system, and at the power the state has in shaping the everyday lives of people in the South. From what we have seen thus far, Southern governments may seem to be unlikely candidates as agents of ‘development’: externally, they are often constrained by unequal international geopolitical relationships, and internally their relationships with their own citizens are often far from perfect. Nevertheless, within the theory and practice of international development, two different arguments for focusing attention on the state have been put forward over the past half-century. The ﬁ rst, important in the decades following World War II and the decolonization of much of Asia and Africa, was that national governments in the South were uniquely placed to push forwards an agenda of economic and social modernization that would allow their countries to ‘catch up’ with the West. The next section of the Chapter introduces this idea of the developmental state, looks at examples of its impact in practice and considers the criticisms that have been made of them.