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Modernity and the State: East, West

Modernity and the State: East, West

Claus Offe

ISBN: 978-0-745-61674-2

May 1996, Polity

288 pages

Select type: Paperback

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This volume addresses the problem of how modern societies politically cohere and poses one of the most fundamental questions of contemporary political analysis: how can legitimate authority coexist with effective governing capacity? In addressing this question, Offe draws on a wide variety of material in both political theory and empirical sociology.

The book is divided into four parts. In the first of these, Offe explores general questions concerning the nature and stability of modern societies and critically examines contemporary approaches to political theory. In the second part he examines new developments facing the state and assesses new departures in state theory. In the third part, problems and policy prescriptions which have emerged in connection with developments in Western welfare states are addressed. In the final part, Offe seeks to illuminate through comparative analysis many of the new questions facing political sociology in the light of the fall of the Berlin wall in 1989. The result is a highly original account of developments in contemporary society both in the West and in the East.

Modernity and the State will be welcomed by students and scholars in social and political theory, political sociology and East European studies.


Part I: Modernity and Self-Limitation. .

1. The Utopia of the Zero Option: Modernity and Modernization as Normative Political Criteria.

2. Bindings, Shackles, Brakes: On Self-Limitation Strategies.

Part II: State Theory: Continuities and Reorientation. .

3. The Theory of the State in Search of its Subject Matter: Observations on Current Debates.

4. Social-Scientific Aspects of the Regulation-Deregulation Debate.

5. Constitutional Policy in Search of the "Will of the People".

Part III: The Politics of Social Welfare. .

6. State Action and Structures of Collective Will Formation: Elements of the Social-Scientific Theory of the State.

7. Beyond the Labour Market: Reflections on a New Definition of "Domestic" Welfare Production with Rolf G. Heinze.

8. Democracy Against the Welfare State?.

9. The Acceptance and Legitimacy of Strategic Options in Social Policy.

10. A Basic Income Guaranteed by the State: A Need of the Moment in Social Policy with Ulrich Mückenberger and Ilona Ostner. .

Part IV: The New East. .

11. The Politics of Social Policy in East European Transitions: Antecedents, Agents and Agendas of Reform.

12. After the Democratic Revolution: New Burdens of Proof.


"Claus Offe was one of the first to recognize the coming crisis of the welfare state, almost 20 years ago. Modernity and the State: East, West convincingly shows that the return to the utopia of the self regulating market in East and West is incompatible with democratic legitimacy and stability. This work is an outstanding attempt to move beyond the antinomy of state vs. market oriented conceptions of social policy." Andrew Arato, New School for Social Research

"For around forty years now, Claus Offe has been one of the most observant, acute, original and uncompromisingly self-critical observers and analysts of the subtle shifts and fierce turbulences of contemporary politics ... [This book] vividly illustrates that never-ending, excruciating torment of self-scrutiny and self-reprobation, which is the un-chosen but inescapable mark of good political sociology." Times Literary Supplement

"Offe always stimulates." German Politics

"This essay is vintage Offe." Political Studies

"Provides food for thought." The Slavonic Review

* Offe is one of the foremost social scientists today; this book brings together his key writings.
* Highly original study of transformations in Central and Eastern Europe, and of their implications, west and east.