State autonomy and culture: towards a culturalist state theory

XIAO Wenming1

(1.Boya College, Sun Yat-sen University)

【Abstract】State autonomy is a key issue in state theory. This article critically reviews relevant discussions concerning the state autonomy provided by different schools of state theories, pointing out that they more or less neglect the significance of culture, and tend to regard state-society relationship as a zero-sum relationship. We need to bring the relationalism approach to overcome this tendency, and understand state autonomy as embedded state autonomy, which is based on a consent notion of culture. In this regards, we should draw insights from state theories of Emile Durkheim and Antonio Gramsci, and consider the definition of culture and the concrete mechanisms through which culture influences the state autonomy. This effort can pave way for a culturalist state theory, and provide a theoretical possibility of non-zero-sum state-society relationship.

【Keywords】 state autonomy; state-society relationships; culture; relationalism;

【DOI】

【Funds】 Major Outstanding Young Teachers Training Program at Sun Yat-sen University of Fundamental Research Funds for Universities in 2017 (17wkzd14)

Download this article

    Footnote

    [1]. ① Of course, we inevitably use conceptually different terms such as state and society, but this does not mean that we consider them to be separate entities. [^Back]

    [2]. ① Due to space limitations, this article will ignore the elements of the state theory that is included in classical sociology, and will ignore advances in the state theory by Samuel P. Huntington or Michael Mann. One of the most important state theorists during the past few years is Bob Jessop. This article cannot provide a systematic review of him, but his views will be cited in different parts of this article. [^Back]

    [3]. ① Neo-Marxism scholars who tend to discuss state autonomy from the logic of capital include Claus Offe and others. Offe’s analysis reminds us that we should not equate the logic of the state with the logic of capital. There is a more complex and uncertain relationship between the two, which also means the existence of state autonomy (Jessop, 1990: 38–41). [^Back]

    [4]. ① Some scholars have recently grouped the definition of culture into three types. The first one is to understand culture as a grammar or code, and its understanding of culture and action is similar to the relationship between grammar and speech. Actions are only the reproduction and expression of culture. The second one is to understand culture as value. The relationship between culture and action is the relationship between goals and means. Culture provides a goal, and material interest is another goal. Actions appear in the conflicts between the two. The third one is to understand culture as map or script. People can use culture to guide them, and culture provides play scripts or travel guides (Hall et al., 2012: 539). However, no matter what kind of definition, culture is characterized by commonality and shareability described below. [^Back]

    [5]. ② Fei Xiaotong also pointed out that to understand culture from the perspective of individuals and groups, culture is to accumulate much individual and limited life experience in history through the group form of society, and transform into a kind of spirit, thought and intellectual property shared by society. Then, it is preserved in various ways in lives, thoughts, attitudes and behaviors of today’s living individuals, becoming something that transcends the individuals (Fei, 2003). Fei Xiaotong also emphasized the consent and shareability of culture. [^Back]

    References

    Almond, A. G. & Verba, S. The Civic Culture: Political Attitudes and Democracy in Five Nations (公民文化:五个国家的政治态度和民主制). Xu, X. et al. (trans.) Beijing: the Eastern Publishing Co., Ltd, (2008).

    Aronowitz, S. & Bratsis, P. (eds.) Paradigm Lost: State TheoryReconsidered (逝去的范式: 反思国家理论). Li, Z. (trans.) Changchun: Jilin People’s Publishing House, (2008).

    Evans, P., Rueschemeyer, D. & Skocpol, T. (eds.) Bringing the State Back In (找回国家). Fang, L., Mo, Y., Huang, Q. et al. (trans.) Beijing: SDX Joint Publishing Company, (2009).

    Poggi, G. The State: Its Nature, Development, and Prospects (国家—本质、发展与前景). Chen Y. (trans.) Shanghai: Shanghai People’s Publishing House, (2007).

    Bourdieu, P. & Wacquant, L. An Invitation to Reflective Sociology (实践与反思:反思社会学导引). Li, M. & Li, K. (trans.) Beijing: Central Compilation & Translation Bureau, (1998).

    Fei, X. Journal of Peking University (Philosophy & Social Sciences) (北京大学学报(哲学社会科学版)), (3) (2003).

    Gao, B. & Xia, X. Journal of Peking University (Philosophy and Social Sciences) (北京大学学报(哲学社会科学版)), (5) (2015).

    Gramsci, A. Selections from the Prison Notebooks (狱中札记). Cao, L., Jiang, L. & Zhang, Y. (trans.) Zhengzhou: Henan People’s Publishing House, (2015).

    Hall, S., in Tao, D. (ed.) Cultural Studies: A Reader (文化研究精粹读本). Beijing: China Renmin University Press, (2006).

    Jessop, B. World Philosophy (世界哲学), (1) (2002).

    Lichbach, M. I. & Alan, S. Z. Comparative Politics: Rationality, Culture, and Structure (比较政治:理性、文化和结构). Chu, J. et al. (trans.) Beijing: China Renmin University Press, (2008).

    Migdal, J. S. Strong Societies and Weak States (强社会与弱国家). Zhang, C., Zhu, H., Yan, C. et al. (trans.) Nanjing: Jiangsu People’s Publishing, LTD., (2009).

    Qu, J. Sociological Research (社会学研究), (4) (2014).

    Skocpol, T. State and Social Revolutions: A Comparative Analysis of France, Russia, and China (国家与社会革命:对法国、俄国和中国的比较分析). He, J. & Wang, X. (trans.) Shanghai: Shanghai Century Publishing Group, (2007).

    Durkheim, E. Professional Ethics and Civic Morals (职业伦理与公民道德). Qu, D. & Fu, D. (trans.) Shanghai: Century Publishing Group, (2006a).

    Durkheim, E. Montesquieu and Rousseau (孟德斯鸠与卢梭). Li, L., Zhao, L. & Fu, D. (trans.), Shanghai: Century Publishing Group, (2006b).

    Durkheim, E. The Elementary Forms of the Religious Life (宗教生活的基本形式). Qu, D. & Ji, Z. (trans.) Shanghai: Century Publishing Group, (2006c).

    Wang, X. Postgraduate Students’ Journal of Peking University (北京大学研究生学志), (21) (2013).

    Weber, M. Basic Concepts in Sociology (社会学的基本概念). Gu, Z. (trans.) Guilin: Guangxi Normal University Press, (2005).

    Weber, M. Economy and Society (经济与社会). Yan, K. (trans.) Shanghai: Shanghai Century Publishing Group, (2010).

    Shilling, C. & Mellor, P. The Sociological Ambition: Elementary Forms of Social and Moral Life (社会学何为?—社会道德生活的基本形式), Li, K. (trans.) Beijing: Peking University Press, (2009).

    Abrams, P. 1988, “Notes on the Difficulty of Studying the State.” Journal of Historical Sociology 1 (1).

    Carruthers, B.G. 1994, “When is the State Autonomous? Culture, Organization Theory, and the Political Sociology of the State.” Sociological Theory 12 (1).

    Emirbayer, M. 1997, “Manifesto for a relationalism Sociology.” The American Journal of Sociology 103 (2).

    Evans, P. 1989, “Predatory, Developmental, and Other Apparatuses: A Comparative Political Economy Perspective on the Third World State.” Sociological Forum 4 (4).

    Evans, P. 1995, Embedded Autonomy: States and Industrial Transformation. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

    Fontana, B. 2006, “State and Society: The Concept of Hegemony in Gramsci.” In Mark Haugaard & Howard H. Lentner (eds.), Hegemony and Power. Lanham, MD.: Lexington Books.

    Foucault, M. 1980, Power/Knowledge. New York: The Harvester Press.

    Hall, J., L. Grindstaff & M. Lo (eds.), 2012, Handbook of Cultural Sociology. London & New York: Routledge.

    Jessop, B. 1990, State Theory: Putting the Capitalist State in Its Place. Cambridge: Polity Press.

    Jessop, B. 2016, The State: Past, Present, Future. Cambridge: Polity Press.

    Lukes, S. 2005, Power: A Radical View. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.

    Migdal, J. 2001, State in Society: Studying How States and Societies Transform and Constitute One Another. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

    Migdal, J., A. Kohli & V. Shue (eds.), 1994, State Power and Social Forces: Domination and Transformation in the Third World. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

    Parsons, T. 1963, “On the Concept of Political Power.” Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society 107 (3).

    Sharma, A. & A. Gupta (eds.), 2006, The Anthropology of the State: A Reader. Oxford: Blackwell Publishing.

This Article

ISSN:1002-5936

CN: 11-1100/C

Vol 32, No. 06, Pages 211-235+246

November 2017

Downloads:5

Share
Article Outline

Knowledge

Abstract

  • 1 Introduction: state autonomy and the definition of the state
  • 2 An overview of recent discussions about the state autonomy
  • 3 Middle inspection: the approaches of culture and relationalism
  • 4 Durkheim and Gramsci’s state theory
  • 5 State autonomy and culture
  • 6 Summary and remained discussion
  • Footnote

    References