Unpacking the Strength of the State: The Utility of State Infrastructural Power

  • Hillel SoiferEmail author
  • Matthias vom Hau

States are central to development and human well-being.1 In Afghanistan, Haiti, and the Democratic Republic of Congo, which for many contemporary commentators epitomize weak or fragile states, the inability to provide security and establish a presence throughout their territory has left local communities vulnerable to warlords and militias and undermined the prospect of economic growth and basic social provision. Other states, for instance Nicaragua, Nigeria, and Peru, have been better able to bring an end to enduring cycles of civil violence and warfare. Yet the provision of basic security and public goods remains fragmented and confined to certain territorial areas, leaving out substantial parts of the population.2 Unlike these countries, a wide range of others, including Costa Rica and the Indian state of Kerala, while by no means endowed with a strongstate by any conventional means, have even managed to achieve certain levels of economic and social well-being. To better...


Infrastructural power State strength State capacity 



The editors thank the Weatherhead Center for International Affairs at Harvard University and the Faculty Development Fund of Bates College for supporting this project.


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PoliticsPrinceton UniversityPrincetonUSA
  2. 2.Brooks World Poverty InstituteThe University of ManchesterManchesterUK

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