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date: 22 November 2019

Abstract and Keywords

The literature on American political development has generated a rich array of tools and concepts for thinking about the dynamics of state formation. More often than not, however, these devices appear as alternatives, with analysts prompted to choose among them. Seldom are the dynamics described brought to bear on one another. This chapter examines three of these dynamics—displacement, path dependence, and creative syncretism—and considers how each informs state formation in America. It then introduces the concept of a “policy state,” a concept which, among other things, can bring these three dynamics more directly into alignment, pull forward their respective insights, and recast the analytic choices they offer. Proposing a “policy state” as the emergent form, identifies more precisely what has been “displaced” along the “path” of American state development and also the openings for “creative syncretism” which have proliferated along the way.

Keywords: Constitution, creative syncretism, displacement, entrepreneurship, jurisdiction, path dependence, policy, policy state, pragmatism, rights, structure

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