The Disoriented State

  • Bas Arts
  • Arnoud Lagendijk
Part of the Environment & Policy book series (ENPO, volume 49)


On the basis both the theoretical arguments and the empirical observations presented so far, this chapter introduces the thesis of the ‘disoriented state’. This concept serves as an alternative for the ‘retreated’, ‘hollowed-out’ or ‘dead’ state, as proclaimed by others. The concept pictures the state as being ‘lost’ in a diffuse, multi-scalar and partly unknown geographical setting, and to being ‘uncertain’ about the nature, characteristics, consequences and, hence, governance of complex issues. Paradoxically, the state seems to remain the power container in international and domestic politics, given its abundance of resources, locus of political authority, de jure recognition of national sovereignty, etc. However, it is ‘surrounded’ by: (1) distanced governance arrangements; (2) re-territorialised political spaces; and (3) decentred statehood. While states also promote these changes, through their various neo-liberal programs, they feel plagued by these at the same time. Calls made earlier for more meta-governance, reflexivity and even irony should be seen in this light.


State theory governmentality disoriented state meta-governance territoriality policy practices 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Albrow, D. (1996). The global age. State and society beyond modernity. Oxford: Polity.Google Scholar
  2. Dean, M. (1999). Governmentality: power and Rule in Modern Society. London: Sage.Google Scholar
  3. Gunn, S (2006). From hegemony to governmentality: changing conceptions of power in social history. Journal of Social History, 3, 705–719.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Hay, C. (2002). Political analysis, Basingstoke: Palgrave.Google Scholar
  5. Hay, C. (2004). Re-stating politics, re-politicising the state: neo-liberalism, economic imperatives and the rise of the competition state. The Political Quarterly, 75, 38–50.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Ohmae, K. (1996). The end of the nation state. The rise of regional economics. Washington, DC: Free Press.Google Scholar
  7. Strange, S. (1996). The retreat of the state. The diffusion of power in the world economy. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Bas Arts
    • 1
  • Arnoud Lagendijk
    • 2
  1. 1.Chair of the Forest and Nature Conservation Policy GroupUniversity of WageningenWageningenThe Netherlands
  2. 2.Department of Spatial PlanningRadboud University of NijmegenNijmegenThe Netherlands

Personalised recommendations