Beyond marxist state theory: State autonomy in democratic societies

Critical Review 14 (2-3):215-236 (2000)
Abstract Recent theories of the state often draw attention to states? autonomy from social preferences. This paper suggests that the phenomenon of public ignorance is the primary mechanism responsible for state autonomy in democratic polities. Such theorists as Skocpol and Poulantzus, who do not take account of public ignorance, either underestimate the state's autonomy or stress causal mechanisms that are necessary but not sufficient conditions for its autonomy. Gram?sci's concept of ideological hegemony is promising, even though it is far too insistent on the penetration of ideology of any kind beyond relatively small numbers of political sophisticates.
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