This article addresses West European and North American developments in theorizing the state. It briefly reviews the first major post-war revival of theoretical interest in the state that began in Western Europe during the mid-1960s. This was mainly led by Marxists interested in the general form and functions of the capitalist state; but a key supporting role was played by Marxist-feminists who extended such ideas to the patriarchal capitalist state. A second revival during the late 1970s is then described. This involved many more theoretical currents and substantive concerns and was also more institutionalist in overall approach. Although the self-declared movement to â��bring the state back inâ�� originated in the USA, some of the most innovative work in this theoretical movement is rooted in less overtly state-centred approaches originating in Western Europe. Indeed some of them argue that the state as such should be dethroned from its central position in analyses of political power and domination. Thus, in addition to neo-statism, I also consider Foucauldian theory, feminism, and discourse analysis. By the 1990s this proliferation of approaches had contributed paradoxically to an apparent withering away of interest in the state as such. None the less, as I argue below, research on the state is continuing in new and exciting forms and directions.
The final, definitive version of this article has been published in the Journal, International Review of Sociology : Revue Internationale de Sociologie, 11 (2), 2001, © Informa Plc