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Political Science / History / Sociology


Critical Theories of the State
Marxist, Neomarxist, Postmarxist
Clyde W. Barrow

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.

Critical Theories of the State is the only work which surveys systematically the radical theories of the capitalist (Western) state in one volume. As the author leads the reader from one theoretical school of thought to another, one gets a very clear sense of the issues and debates that engaged the varied theoreticians over the last quarter of a century. The specialist will benefit from the comparative theoretical overview and the sophisticated critique; the student will learn, in addition, the unique characteristics of the respective theories. The book is also valuable for its analytical conclusion, which points the reader toward what the future holds for the theory of the capitalist state.”
—Samih K. Farsoun, American University

Clyde W. Barrow
is the Director of the Center for Policy Analysis and Chancellor Professor of Public Policy at the University of Massachusetts–Dartmouth. He is the author of five other books, including Universities and the Capitalist State, also published by the University of Wisconsin Press, but now out of print.

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Image of a red hand picking up the White House

March 1993

LC: 92-034761 JC
230 pp.   6 x 9   13 figs.

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Paper $24.95 x
ISBN 978-0-299-13714-4
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"Barrow's thoughtful and informed study outlines the shaping of the American university system against the background of rising corporate power, the demands of the state ideological apparatus, and the ebb and flow of popular forces. It provides much insight into the tensions inherent in a system of private power and democratic ideals, and their consequences for the academic institutions and intellectual life generally."
—Noam Chomsky

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Updated June 7, 2012

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