Skip to content
Register Sign in Wishlist
Powers of Theory

Powers of Theory
Capitalism, the State, and Democracy


  • Date Published: November 1985
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9780521316354

£ 44.99

Add to cart Add to wishlist

Other available formats:

Looking for an inspection copy?

This title is not currently available on inspection

Product filter button
About the Authors
  • Existing theories of the nature of the state in Western capitalist democracies have been mostly propounded from one of three major theoretical perspectives, each emphasising a particular aspect of the state: the 'pluralist', which emphasises its democratic aspect: the 'managerial', which emphasises its bureaucratic elements: and the 'class', which focuses on its capitalistic aspect. Each of these theoretical perspectives has contributed something to our understanding of the state, but each also has its limitations. In this book, Alford and Friedland evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of each perspective and present a new, synthetic framework for a more comprehensive theory of the state. Impartially reviewing the major historical and empirical works within each theoretical tradition, they reveal how empirical study has been shaped by theoretical assumptions. They agree that each perspective has a distinctive 'power' to understand part of the reality of the modern state, although it is powerless to explain other parts. In each case, the part that can be explained is the perspective's 'home domain', or the aspect of the state that it emphasises, while other aspects are either rejected or reinterpreted. The authors argue that the state cannot be adequately understood unless full account is taken of each of these home domains, and they suggest how the contributions of each perspective to the explanation of its own domain can be integrated into a new, and more powerful, theory.

    Reviews & endorsements

    'An ambitious and sophisticated work of integration that brings together all the most important literature on modern democratic capitalist states within a single, overall, highly illuminating argument.' Steven Lukes, Balliol College, Oxford

    'An original, provocative, and ambitious attempt to synthesise the major theoretical traditions of political sociology into a coherent general framework, the work is not only accessible to students, but will also be stimulating reading for seasoned academics interested in recent debates and new ideas.' Erik Olin, Wright University of Wisconsin-Madison

    'Alford and Friedland succeed in characterising pluralist, managerial, and class perspectives on state and society under capitalism, in showing how each fails, and in sketching complementarities among them.' Charles Tilly, New School for Social Research

    See more reviews

    Customer reviews

    Not yet reviewed

    Be the first to review

    Review was not posted due to profanity


    , create a review

    (If you're not , sign out)

    Please enter the right captcha value
    Please enter a star rating.
    Your review must be a minimum of 12 words.

    How do you rate this item?


    Product details

    • Date Published: November 1985
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9780521316354
    • length: 520 pages
    • dimensions: 229 x 154 x 36 mm
    • weight: 0.83kg
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    Introduction: State and society in theoretical perspective
    1. Theoretical perspectives as modes of inquiry
    Part I. The Pluralist Perspective:
    2. State and society in pluralist perspective
    3. The democratic state and consensus
    4. The democratic state and participation
    5. The pluralist perspective on the bureaucratic state
    6. The pluralist perspective on the capitalist state
    Part II. The Managerial Perspective:
    7. State and society in managerial perspective
    8. The bureaucratic state and centralisation
    9. The bureaucratic state and fragmentation
    10. The managerial perspective on the capitalist state
    11. The managerial perspective on the democratic state
    Part III. The Class Perspective:
    12. State and society in class perspective
    13. The capitalist state and accumulation
    14. The capitalist state and class struggle
    15. The class perspective on the democratic state
    16. The class perspective on the bureaucratic state
    Part IV. Theory, Politics, and Contradictions in the State:
    17. The powers of theory
    18. The power of politics
    19. The power of contradictions.

  • Authors

    Robert R. Alford

    Roger Friedland

Sorry, this resource is locked

Please register or sign in to request access. If you are having problems accessing these resources please email

Register Sign in
Please note that this file is password protected. You will be asked to input your password on the next screen.

» Proceed

You are now leaving the Cambridge University Press website. Your eBook purchase and download will be completed by our partner Please see the permission section of the catalogue page for details of the print & copy limits on our eBooks.

Continue ×

Continue ×

Continue ×
warning icon

Turn stock notifications on?

You must be signed in to your Cambridge account to turn product stock notifications on or off.

Sign in Create a Cambridge account arrow icon

Find content that relates to you

Join us online

This site uses cookies to improve your experience. Read more Close

Are you sure you want to delete your account?

This cannot be undone.


Thank you for your feedback which will help us improve our service.

If you requested a response, we will make sure to get back to you shortly.

Please fill in the required fields in your feedback submission.