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Rule and rupture: state formation through the production of property and citizenship

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Treating the ‘state’ as a finished product gets in the way of understanding it. The state is always in the making. This article, which acts as the Introduction to a special issue, argues that political authority is (re-)produced through the process of successfully defining and enforcing rights to community membership and rights of access to important resources. Claims to rights prompt the exercise of authority. Struggles over property and citizenship are therefore as much about the scope and constitution of political authority as they are about access to resources and membership of a political community. The ability to entitle and disenfranchise people with regard to property, and to establish the conditions under which they hold property — together with the ability to define who belongs and who does not, and to establish and uphold rank, privilege and social servitude in its many forms — is constitutive of state power. Thus this essay argues that various moments of rupture (following periods of conflict, of colonial domination, of socialist, liberal, or authoritarian regimes, et cetera) allow us to see that rights do not simply flow from authority but also constitute it. Authority and rights are conceptually tied together by recognition. This article demonstrates how contracts of recognition unfold. It proposes an approach to the systematic investigation of the constitution of authority through the social production of property and citizenship as the recognition of claims to resources and membership. It thereby develops a way to study concrete dynamics of authority or state formation.
Original languageEnglish
JournalDevelopment and Change
Issue number6
Pages (from-to)1199–1228
Number of pages30
StatePublished - 2016

Bibliographical note

Special Issue: Rule and Rupture: State Formation through the Production of Property and Citizenship

ID: 169159336