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Reconsidering PolicyComplexity, Governance and the State$
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Kate Crowley, Jenny Stewart, Adrian Kay, and Brian Head

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9781447333111

Published to Policy Press Scholarship Online: September 2020

DOI: 10.1332/policypress/9781447333111.001.0001

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Reconsidering the state

Reconsidering the state

(p.55) 4 Reconsidering the state
Reconsidering Policy

Kate Crowley

Jenny Stewart

Adrian Kay

Brian W. Head

Policy Press

State-centred and society-centred explanations in comparative public policy analysis disagree markedly on the extent to which the state has autonomy or is essentially a clearing-house for outside forces. In this chapter, we reconsider the position of the state in policy studies by investigating the interactions and inter-dependency between the state and society rather than making a binary choice between state-centred and society-centred perspectives on governance. The core argument is that policy studies can improve its ability to apprehend the position of the state in dilemmas of contemporary policy-making by acknowledging that the state is, at once, both critical to collective action and reliant on crucial elements of societal support for its policy effectiveness. In such terms, governance is a useful label for the variety of ways in which society is not simply acted upon by the state, but actively shapes the actions of and outcomes of state activity.

Keywords:   the state, governance, state-centred perspectives, society-centred perspectives, collective action, policy effectiveness

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