states, states, and more states – a guest blog post by nick rowland

Nicholas Rowland is an associate professor of sociology at Penn State – Altoona. He is a sociologist of science and an Indiana alumnus. In this guest post, he asks for your help in exploring how social scientists imagine the state.

Greetings Orgtheory community,

I write to ask for help, help in hunting-down states. I am in the middle of compiling a list of different state concepts from all over academia. By “state concepts” (specifically plural) I am referring of concepts that appear to be crafted according to the formula “[select key term] state” wherein “[s]tate activity related to [select key term] becomes the definition of the self-referential term” (2015). Many of you are doubtlessly familiar with these sorts of concepts, for example, Adams’ “spectacular state” or Karl’s “petro state” of Guss’s “festive state” or Geertz’s “theater state” and so on. While some of these terms are esoteric and perhaps only used once or only by one scholar, others – such as “modern state,” “bureaucratic state” or “administrative state” – are so commonplace they almost appear to have no progenitor at all.

If you are familiar with concepts not featured below, please do leave a quick comment with the name of the concept and, if possible, some idea of where it comes from – even a vague idea of its origins helps. So far, this is the list of state concepts, and “thank you in advance” to those who offer to help.

[Ed. – It gets real statey and fun below this page break… you’ve been warned.]

  1. “Absolutist State”,
  2. “Actor State”,
  3. “Actor-Network State”,
  4. “Administrative State”,
  5. “Ambiguous State”,
  6. “Apartheid State”,
  7. “Aseptic State”,
  8. “Associative State”,
  9. “Authoritarian State”,
  10. “Autonomous State”,
  11. “Autopoietic State”,
  12. “Bolshevist State”,
  13. “Bureaucratic State”,
  14. “Calibrating State”,
  15. “Capitalist State”,
  16. “City State”,
  17. “Class State”,
  18. “Client State”,
  19. “Coercive State”,
  20. “Colonial State”,
  21. “Commodity State”,
  22. “Communist State”,
  23. “Confessional State”,
  24. “Constituent State”,
  25. “Constitutive State”,
  26. “Container State”,
  27. “Contaminated State”,
  28. “Core State”,
  29. “Cyborg State”,
  30. “Data State”,
  31. “De Facto State”,
  32. “Defective State”,
  33. “Democratic State”,
  34. “Developmental State”,
  35. “Developmentalist State”,
  36. “Dirigiste State”,
  37. “Disabled State”,
  38. “Disaggregated State”,
  39. “Disembodied State”,
  40. “Distributive State”,
  41. “Elusive State”,
  42. “Embodied State”,
  43. “Emergency State”,
  44. “Enabling State”,
  45. “Engineering State”,
  46. “Enviro State”,
  47. “Environmental State”,
  48. “Fascist State”,
  49. “Failed State”,
  50. “Familial State”,
  51. “Federal State”,
  52. “Festive State”,
  53. “Feudal State”,
  54. “Fiscal-Military State”,
  55. “Fragile State”,
  56. “Fragmented State”,
  57. “Future State”,
  58. “Garrison State”,
  59. “Glass State”,
  60. “Gendered State”,
  61. “Global State”,
  62. “Heretical State”,
  63. “Hobbesian State”
  64. “Hollow State”,
  65. “Hydraulic State”,
  66. “Imagined State”,
  67. “Imperial State”,
  68. “Informational State”,
  69. “Infrastructure State”,
  70. “Kenyseian State”,
  71. “Laissez-Faire State”,
  72. “Leaky State”,
  73. “Local State”,
  74. “Magic State”,
  75. “Magical State”,
  76. “Military State”,
  77. “Mineral State”,
  78. “Mining State”,
  79. “Modern State”,
  80. “Nanny State”,
  81. “Nascent State”,
  82. “Nation State”,
  83. “National Security State”,
  84. “Neoliberal State”,
  85. “Network State”,
  86. “Networked State”,
  87. “Para State”,
  88. “Parent State”,
  89. “Parental State”,
  90. “Paternalistic State”,
  91. “Patriot State”,
  92. “Patron State”,
  93. “Penal State”,
  94. “Periphery State”,
  95. “Petro State”,
  96. “Person State”,
  97. “Pariah State”,
  98. “Paternal State”,
  99. “Police State”
  100. “Policy State”,
  101. “Politicized State”,
  102. “Post-Colonial State”,
  103. “Post-Fordist Welfare State”,
  104. “Post-Industrial State”,
  105. “Post-Regulatory State”,
  106. “Predatory State”,
  107. “Premodern State”,
  108. “Pristine State”,
  109. “Pseudo State”,
  110. “Powerless State”,
  111. “Quasi State”,
  112. “Racial State”,
  113. “Real State”,
  114. “Regulatory State”,
  115. “Rentier State”,
  116. “Republican State”,
  117. “Scientific State”,
  118. “Security State”,
  119. “Shadow State”,
  120. “Schumpeterian Workfare State”,
  121. “Social Services State”,
  122. “Socialist State”,
  123. “Sovereign State”,
  124. “Spectacle State”,
  125. “Spectacular State”,
  126. “Surveillance State”,
  127. “Sustainable State”,
  128. “Strong State”,
  129. “Technoscientific State”,
  130. “Temple State”,
  131. “Territorial State”,
  132. “Theater State”,
  133. “Therapeutic State”,
  134. “Total State”,
  135. “Transnational State”,
  136. “Transnational Network State”,
  137. “Unrecognized State”,
  138. “Virtual State”,
  139. “Weak State”,
  140. “Weberian State”,
  141. “Welfare State”,

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Written by fabiorojas

April 2, 2015 at 1:51 am

14 Responses

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  1. I’ll start … isn’t there in development studies the belief in the kleptostate that just rips off citizens?

    Liked by 1 person


    April 2, 2015 at 1:53 am

  2. And the swedish “cradle to grave state.”



    April 2, 2015 at 1:55 am

  3. Mental state: in psychiatry & clinical psychology it refers to a client’s state of mental health or otherwise, and is often used as a short hand reference to ‘mental state examination’


  4. Add “Gatekeeper state”, often used in African Studies (see, e.g. ).

    Liked by 2 people

    Dan Hirschman

    April 2, 2015 at 3:11 am

  5. Rump state (I think I’ve mainly encountered this in regards to post-1918 Austria and the plans for Turkey after Sevres but before Lausanne).

    Narco state (has been used about Afghanistan, Mexico, and some African states).

    Rogue state (it originated within the 1990’s state department, according to Wiki)

    Limitrophe state (used in interwar Europe)

    Bolivarian state

    Sam Kaplan wrote an ethnography of rural education in Turkey called “The Pedagogical State”, which I think fits well in with your snowclone. Catherine Alexander has one called “Personal States: Making Connections between People and Bureaucracy in Turkey”, but I can’t remember if it fits your pattern because all I remember is not enjoying it. Brinkley Messick has a book called “The Calligraphic State” that I haven’t read yet.

    Deformed workers’ state/Degenerated workers’ state (used by some Western Marxist works to explain away the Soviet Union)

    You’ve got core and periphery, but no Semi-Periphery.

    Didn’t Weber talk about the “patrimonial state”?

    Night-watchman state

    Free state

    Revisionist state vs. Status Quo State (used in IR)

    I remember Hobbesian state from IR, but weren’t there two others? Maybe Lockean state and Kantian states? Or were those the characteristics of Lockean and Kantian systems, not states?

    General ones: secular state, successor state, buffer state, vassal state, tributary state, puppet state, unitary state, Islamic state (and probably ones for other religions–Israel is the Jewish State, after all), closed state, single party state.

    Flipping the script a little, but still getting at what you want: “state-nation”. There’s a good book out there called “Crafting State-Nations: India and Other Multinational Democracies”.

    Honorable mentions (describe an element within the state, rather than a characteristic of the state; “state within the state”-type organizations):

    Deep state (used in Turkey to describe the alliance between intelligence services, military and paramilitary groups, and organized crime; has been applied to other countries)

    Parallel state (used recently in Turkey to describe the Gulenist organization).

    Liked by 1 person


    April 2, 2015 at 4:34 am

  6. “Active Welfare State”.
    I believe it is a conept that was coined by then minister of Social Affairs and now professor Frank Vandenbroucke in Belgium.



    April 2, 2015 at 8:22 am

  7. Idealogical state apparatus by Althusser and smash the state by all anarchists


    Anarchy in the uk

    April 2, 2015 at 9:44 am

  8. Mafia State / Narco State



    April 2, 2015 at 12:02 pm

  9. Tilly and Tarrow talk about Hybrid States.



    April 2, 2015 at 9:16 pm

  10. puppet state
    satellite state
    world state



    April 3, 2015 at 7:58 pm

  11. Thanks to everyone for these additional states … so many states.



    April 7, 2015 at 3:56 pm

  12. Hey Fabio and JCB: it appears that klepto-state and Narco-state can be combined, according to John Kerry, under a narcokleptocracy.



    April 7, 2015 at 6:08 pm

  13. New one just yesterday: Submerged State (to capture government aid to citizens that, unlike direct assistance to welfare recipients or folks in the food stamp program, are indirect and thus less obvious — submerged, even):



    April 8, 2015 at 3:59 pm

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