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date: 26 July 2021

Abstract and Keywords

In this chapter we critically assess the most common concepts of state failure and evaluate the different pathways of violent state transformation as well as their institutional and physical characteristics. Particular emphasis is placed on the nexus between making war and (un-)making the state, the critical role of international interventions in peace-building and state-building, and alternative modes of governance beyond the state. We conclude that state failure comprises different political processes and that multiple paths can lead to the escalation of warfare and even state collapse. Both for methodological and practical reasons, research suggests that the state retains great theoretical and empirical relevance but that analyses of state failure benefit by disaggregating the concept and using multilevel research strategies.

Keywords: state failure, state transformation, war, intervention, peace-building, state-building, Global South, governance beyond the state

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