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A critique of the anthropomorphic conception of the state: The Romanian state as a relational, network and emergent actor.

Manea, Simona Florina (2008) A critique of the anthropomorphic conception of the state: The Romanian state as a relational, network and emergent actor. PhD thesis, London School of Economics and Political Science.

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The present thesis is premised on the claim that that there is an inescapable arrangement of the discipline around the concept of the state. IR theories, from rationalist to constructivist ones, dispute to different degrees the ontological and/or analytical utility of the concept. Yet none of them reject the assumptions of corporate agency (based on the assumption of personhood) when discussing the state as an agent internationally. This thesis advances the view that assumptions about the properties of biological kinds, such as unchangeable features, well-determined boundaries and unitary intentionality and agency, cannot be transferred to social kinds such as states. It constitutes a rejection of the essentialising and reifying moves characterising IR theories, while still arguing there are such things as structurally complex actors, and that the state is one of them. The thesis proposes a conception of the state as a relational, network and emergent actor. It argues that a combination between the relational ontology of networks with the emergent and nonlinear assumptions of complexity science constitute the basis for such a conception of the state. Specifically, the framework can account for the relationship between individual and state agency without collapsing the two analytical and ontological objects. It proposes a view of state agency as differentiated depending on the type of relationships within networks engaged in the constitution of the state. In this light, state agency is regarded as non-unitary and relational. Based on such a framework, the illustrative cases challenge the manner in which historical data has been put to work to explain the construction of the Romanian state in relation to specific historical events: i.e. the coup and change of regime after 1944; and within a specific period of modernity: i.e. from the 1960s to mid- 1980s. The analysis demonstrates that the Romanian state is more than the sum of powerful individuals, yet not a static entity with a clear distinction between its inside and outside. It also shows that, even for the personalistic dictatorship years (1960s - 1980s), overlapping and contradictory social relations and practices simultaneously constitute the state and state agency. This demonstration aims to reinforce the broader claim about the applicability of the framework across a range of types of states (in this case, totalitarian modern states) whilst allowing specific historical analysis of their constitution and agentic potentialities.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Uncontrolled Keywords: Political Science, General, Political Science, International Relations, East European Studies
Sets: Collections > ProQuest Etheses
Departments > International Relations

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