chapter  1
25 Pages

Introduction

In development studies some decades ago, there was a particular focus on the causes, nature and effects of a specific state formation, the ‘soft state’. It was especially Gunnar Myrdal who in his seminal Asian Drama (1968) had depicted a ‘soft state’ as a polity which lacked stable institutions and was characterized by more or less unpredictable political and administrative practices and ad hoc procedures. Such a state, according to Myrdal, lacked a modern and honest bureaucracy (in a Weberian sense), and was torn apart by rivals’ special interests. Moreover, the economy of such a state formation was haunted by high transaction costs; hence its low capacity for growth. In an economy characterized by radical uncertainty, in order to motivate risktaking the expected net return of transactions must be very high.1 In his classical definition of the ‘modern’ (Weberian) state Michel Mann distinguished between four elements:

(1) A differentiated set of institutions and personnel embodying (2) centrality in the sense that political relations radiate outwards from a

centre to cover (3) a territorially demarcated area, over which it exercises (4) a monopoly of authoritative binding rule-making, backed up by a

monopoly of the means of physical violence.2