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date: 18 March 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter serves to introduce the central concepts of the handbook, to briefly delineate its contributions to the state of the art, and to lay out the rationale behind its various sections. We begin by discussing the central concepts of the handbook, ‘limited statehood’ and ‘governance’. We argue that ‘areas of limited statehood’ where central state authorities lack the capacity to uphold the monopoly over the means of violence and/or to enforce the law, can be found everywhere and are not confined to what the literature erroneously calls ‘fragile’ or ‘failed’ states. However, areas of limited statehood are neither ungovernable nor ungoverned. Instead, we find an enormous variation that includes badly governed places but also ‘good governance’ in areas of limited statehood. If institutions are flexible enough to adapt to local conditions, effective and legitimate governance is likely to emerge where people trust each other and accept their ‘governors’.

Keywords: areas of limited statehood, governance, legitimacy, effectiveness, statehood, social trust, institutions

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