Metatheories of the state.
Metatheories of the State is a contribution to reinterpreting contemporary state theory
through an account of three leading approaches in recent political theory.
Metatheorising, as a form of critical analysis and exegesis, is portrayed as a sensitive
exploratory technique which serves as a means of situating social and political theories
in terms of their historical and social context as well as in terms of their epistemological
and ontological assumptions. This thesis focuses upon three distinctive approaches in
the field of state theory through an examination and theoretical reconstruction of key
positions in Neo-Pluralism, Neo-Liberalism and Neo-Marxism. Each of the approaches
considered is situated and assessed in terms of their epistemological and ontological
frame of reference (their position in relationship to approaches within the philosophy of
social science), as well as in terms of their contribution to the theorisation of the
relationship between the state and society. This thesis addresses the tendency of state
theorists to treat the state as the 'horizon' for the constitution of the social order rather
than as an object in its own right with its own imperatives, structure and rationale. In
each case, the substantive focus of analysis (polyarchic civility for Dahl, catallactic
relations for Hayek and processes of societalisation for Jessop) is identified in relation
to the state as a boundary or as a set of parameters which limit the operation of, and
provide the conditions of possibility of social relations. Finally, this investigation
highlights their distinctive models of causality within different accounts of knowledge
construction in order to demonstrate the way in which realism is understood in relation
to empiricism and idealism in social scientific practice.