Explaining State Disengagement

  • Stephanie M. Hoopes


Most scholars of politics, from whatever their viewpoint, have assumed that states and governments grow larger over time, and that it is normal, logical and ‘rational’ for those who control government power to seek to push outward their scope of influence. Pluralists see groups, including bureaucrats, as always demanding more services and government responding by building greater capabilities to meet these demands (Dahl, 1961; Halperin, 1974). Elite theorists assume that the state is a means for elites to enhance or protect their position and thus expect elite demands to increase the scope of the states (Mills, 1956). Public choice theorists, whether focusing on the bureaucrat or the politician, have assumed that public officials have self-interested reasons for increasing the size of the government (Niskanen, 1971). Even from the perspective of international relations, scholars have accepted the realists’ premise that states are power maximisers continuously seeking to increase their wealth and control, and thus their size (Keohane, 1984a; Waltz, 1954 and 1979). This includes scholars from the international political economy perspective who regard states as only one of many actors in the international arena (Strange, 1985; Krasner, 1985b).


Public Choice Civil Servant Policy Entrepreneur Public Choice Theory Asset Sale 
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Copyright information

© Stephanie M. Hoopes 1997

Authors and Affiliations

  • Stephanie M. Hoopes
    • 1
  1. 1.School of Social SciencesUniversity of SussexUK

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