From a Regional to a Relational Theory?
In his last book Poulantzas set himself several theoretical and political objectives. He was clearly concerned with the growth of authoritarian statism in almost all developed countries (including those in the Soviet bloc) and the prospects for democratic socialism as a feasible alternative in some European countries. He described both issues as important and urgent and considered them to be closely related (SPS, pp. 7, 39, 206–7, 246–7, 265). Before Poulantzas discussed these crucial issues, however, he presented some basic theoretical guidelines and arguments. Most of these can be found in his earlier work but some were presented for the first time in SPS. In particular he developed his own relational approach to the ‘institutional materiality’ of the state and also engaged in a partial and critical rapprochement with Foucault’s work. Accordingly the present chapter considers the extent to which these new elements are consistent with Poulantzas’s earlier regional theory and to what extent they constitute a decisive theoretical break in his work.
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