State-Society Relations and State Capacity in Somalia



The protracted nature of state collapse in Somalia, the magnitude of the human tragedies caused by the civil war, and the subsequent failure of the central institutions have compelled academics and analysts to investigate what went wrong with Somali politics and society, and to propose some solutions to the so-called ‘Somali crisis’' often using one of the major approaches to the study of Somali state and society, namely, instrumentalist and traditionalist. The drawing was relevant to literature based on both traditionalist and instrumentalist approaches and adapting an innovative social control analytical framework developed by Joel S. Migdal. This chapter advances two main arguments. The first is that the current governance crisis in Somalia is cumulative effects of sustained wrong policies and puzzling behavior of Somali political elites that have caused the deterioration of state–-society relations and state to lose legitimacy and relevance in the eyes and hearts of large segments of its citizens. Second, since the breakdown of state–society relations has arguably reached its highest point, it is the right time for the Somali leaders to work toward creating legitimate and credible state institutions that can deliver much needed political goods to all citizens rather than focusing themselves or small groups and clans who are close to the ruling elites. By doing so, the state can regain the allegiance of its citizens which could lead the easy mobilization of the general population for collective action and resource products that are crucial for reviving the collapsed central institutions. In order to sustain these arguments, the author makes a brief review of the political history of Somalia during the various eras of colonial rule, civilian government, and military regime. The author has also made analytical contrasts between periods of Somali history where the state’s influence and control over the society were substantially strong and when the phenomena have collapsed altogether.


Somalia State State–Society relations State capacity State collapse 


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© The Author(s) 2021

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.The University for Peace (UPEACE)San JoséCosta Rica

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