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Power Without Force

The Political Capacity of Nation-States

Robert W. Jackman

Publication Year: 1993

Decolonization after World War II led to a significant global increase in the number of states. Each new nation was born with high expectations. But these hopes were soon eroded by the ineffectiveness and capriciousness of many of the new regimes. In many states military juntas have become the order of the day, and even where juntas have not taken power, political differences have repeatedly degenerated into violent exchanges that do not readily lend themselves to political settlement. Not only the new states have suffered from these problems; indeed, political solutions to conflict have become depressingly conspicuous by their absence. Against this background, the last decade has seen a resurgence of interest in evaluating the political capacity or strength of modern nation-states. In Power without Force, Robert Jackman argues that political capacity has two broad components: organizational age and legitimacy. Thus, it is essential to focus both on institutions conceived in organizational terms and the amount of compliance and consent that leaders are able to engender. The emphasis on each reflects the view that political life centers on the exercise of power, and that, unlike physical force, power is intrinsically relational. Although all states have he capability to inflict physical sanctions, their ability to exercise power is the key element of their political capacity. Drawing on a wide range of studies from political science, sociology, and political economy, Power without Force redirects attention to the central issues of political capacity. By stressing that effective conflict resolution must be addressed in political terms, this volume underscores perennial issues of governance and politics that form the heart of comparative politics and political sociology.

Published by: University of Michigan Press

Series: Analytical Perspectives on Politics


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p. xiii

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1. Background to the Study of Political Capacity

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pp. 1-24

Until the early 1950s, comparative political analysis usually involved the rather narrow study of foreign governments. Comparative studies were limited in at least two important ways. First, they were primarily configurative. They placed considerable emphasis on the history of formal constitutional arrangements and political institutions, in the ...

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2. What Is Political Capacity?

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pp. 25-46

Before we proceed to the subject of capacity, we need to explicit about what we mean by politics. The point may seem rudimentary, but there remains a good deal of confusion over what politics entails. As will become clear, the manner in which we define...

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3. Recent Analyses of the State and Political Capacity

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pp. 47-72

I have argued that national political capacity hinges on the creation of legitimate institutions. On the face of it, this approach would seem to have much in common with recent analyses of the nation-state, espe cially those that address the issue of state strength. Indeed, I suggested in chapter 1 that such analyses have brought us back to many of ...

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4. Institutions and Political Capacity

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pp. 73-94

To this point I have emphasized the centrality of institutions to political capacity. I tum now to the question of what it is about institutions that impinges on capacity. The goal is to identify a generic type of political capacity, although in view of the recency of the modem state, the kinds of politics involved are peculiar to this century. This means that although capacity is concerned with the degree of government rather than its form, we...

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5. Legitimacy and Political Capacity

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pp. 95-122

In chapter 4, I argued that organizational age is a central element of institutionalization. But this is only half of the picture. I turn now to the other key element, which centers on the legitimacy of national political organizations. Legitimacy is fundamental to political life because it reflects the degree...

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6. The Measurement of National Political Capacity

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pp. 123-154

My discussion of organizational age and political legitimacy in the preceding two chapters has been couched in terms that have clear implications for measurement. The task that remains is to address those measurement issues directly. As will become clear in this chap ter, the fact that political concepts are designed with measurement in ...

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7. Conclusions

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pp. 155-162

My purpose in this book has been to offer a fresh brief for the study of national political development or capacity. The topic received a good deal of attention throughout the 1960s and for part of the 1970s. Starting in the early...

Appendix: Country Values for the Chronological Age of National Political Institutions and the Generational Age of the Top National Political Leadership

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pp. 163-166


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pp. 167-186


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pp. 187-194

E-ISBN-13: 9780472023462
E-ISBN-10: 0472023462
Print-ISBN-13: 9780472082360
Print-ISBN-10: 0472082361

Page Count: 208
Illustrations: numerous tables
Publication Year: 1993

Series Title: Analytical Perspectives on Politics
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OCLC Number: 651657314
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Power Without Force

Research Areas


Subject Headings

  • Legitimacy of governments.
  • Power (Social sciences).
  • Political development.
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