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Di John, Jonathan (2009) 'The Concept, Causes and Consequences of Failed States: A Critical Review of the Literature and Agenda for Research with Specific Reference to Sub-Saharan Africa.' The European Journal of Development Research, 22 (1). pp. 10-30.

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This article provides a critical review of recent literature that has attempted to define what a ‘failed state’ is and explains why such states emerge. It is argued that aggregate indices of ‘failure’ are misleading due to the wide variations of capacity across state functions within a polity. The focus on ranking states also distracts attention away from analyses concerning the dynamics of state capacity. Moreover, many of the definitions either compare reality to a Weberian ideal, or assume that violence is ‘development in reverse’, both of which are ahistorical and unhelpful as a guide to policy. The second part of the article assesses the contributions of functionalist, ‘new war’ and neo-Tillean approaches to explain state failure. The article finds that while these theories take concrete historical situations seriously, they have important theoretical and empirical shortcomings. Finally, the conclusion outlines an agenda for further research.

Item Type: Journal Article
Keywords: failed states, functionalist theories, new wars, fragile states, resource curse, sub-Saharan Africa
SOAS Departments & Centres: Departments and Subunits > Department of Development Studies
ISSN: 09578811
DOI (Digital Object Identifier):
Date Deposited: 09 Apr 2018 12:11

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