The global political economy of social crisis: Towards a critique of the 'failed state' ideology

Gruffydd Jones, Branwen. 2008. The global political economy of social crisis: Towards a critique of the 'failed state' ideology. Review of International Political Economy, 15(2), pp. 180-205. ISSN 0969-2290 [Article]

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The notion of 'failed states' has gained widespread currency in political and academic discourse. This article contributes to a critique of the 'failed states' discourse. It identifies methodological flaws in the 'failed states' discourse which undermine its explanatory power, and proposes an alternative framework for analysing conditions of social crisis in neocolonial states, rooted in global political economy. This paper focuses on conditions of crisis in Africa. The discourse of 'state failure' characterises conditions of crisis as local in origin, the product of culture or poor leadership. The current condition of structural crisis in so many of Africa's neocolonial states must be situated in the imperial history of global capitalism. This requires examining the legacy of colonial transformation; the specific form of the postcolonial state, society and economy after independence, which tended in many cases to give rise to factional struggles and authoritarian rule; and the ways in which such 'internal' social tensions and contradictions have been reinforced by the global political economy, both the geo-politics of the Cold War and the contradictions of global capitalism. The argument is developed through examination of the specific case of Somalia.

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Research Office > REF2014



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08 Nov 2010 09:13

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19 Feb 2015 02:46

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Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.


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