Critical Theories of the State is a clear and accessible survey of radical perspectives on the modern state. By focusing on Marxist theory and its variations, particularly as applied to advanced industrial societies and contemporary welfare states, Clyde W. Barrow provides a more extensive and thorough treatment than is available in any other work.
Barrow divides the methodological assumptions and key hypotheses of Marxist, Neo-Marxist, and Post-Marxist theories into five distinct approaches: instrumentalist, structuralist, derivationist, systems-analytic, and organizational realist. He categorizes the many theorists discussed in the book, including such thinkers as Elmer Altvater, G. William Domhoff, Fred Block, Claus Offe, and Theda Skocpol according to their concepts of the state’s relationship to capital and their methodological approach to the state. Based on this survey, Barrow elaborates a compelling typology of radical state theories that identifies with remarkable clarity crucial points of overlap and divergence among the various theories.
Scholars conducting research within the rubric of state theory, political development, and policy history will find Critical Theories of the State an immensely valuable review of the literature. Moreover, Barrow’s work will make an excellent textbook for undergraduate and graduate courses in political science and sociology, and can also be used by those teaching theory courses in international relations, history, and political economy.