Moving Forward with State Autonomy and Capacity

Example from Two Studies of the Pentagon During W.W. II

Published in: Journal of Political and Military Sociology, v. 28, no. 1, Summer 2000, p. 21-42

Posted on RAND.org on December 31, 1999

by Christopher Paul

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This paper proposes a better strategy for arriving at answers to the critical question why do states do what they do? by focusing on and elaborating state autonomy theory. Proposing first that state autonomy is most effectively conceived as the interstices in the tensions between pluralistic institutional constraints and ruling class power influence, the position advanced asserts the potential autonomy of states and states' agencies, the variability of autonomy across issues and decisions, and the covariance of state autonomy with state capacity. After probing the relationship between state autonomy and state capacity in detail, the paper proposes a set of guidelines for empirical investigation and then demonstrates the advantages of this approach by discussing how its use might alleviate some of the shortcomings of Hooks and Domhoff's polemic works on the World War II industrial mobilization and the Pentagon.

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