Gran, Thorvald (1994):

The state in the modernization process.

Oslo: Ad notam Gyldendal.





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11/1 2013

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States are complex organizations, not least because of their sovereignty and their acquired power as organizers of politics. States as organizations, as a specific type of rational collective actor, were long ignored in Norwegian political science, though states and state power have been an area of concern within radical European social science over a long period. The overarching problem is: Has the state had an autonomous role relative to actors in civil society, in the transformation of the Norwegian economy from subsistence agriculture to a growth-oriented, industrial capitalism? Or, as some variants of both pluralist and Marxist state theories imply, have state activities and policies been mere expressions for dominant actors outside the state (political parties, interest organizations, specific social classes, the "people" etc.)?

The study is a contribution to a "critique" of political science, in the sense that it attempts to relate political phenomena as they are defined within social science disciplines to some of the economic processes in society, and through that confrontation, to question, or test the validity of central common concepts describing the Norwegian state, historically and today. It attempts to draw on historical knowledge and research methods, especially in the analysis of the selected case studies (the transverse studies). It tries to utilize economic concepts and data to develop a description of the distribution of economic power between the state and the main social classes. And it uses organization theory, with its focus on roles, action models and decision-making within institutionalized norms and expectations. The study puts focus on the question of autonomy, whether and under what conditions the state can be seen as an independent actor, relative to the main class and group formations in society and what power the state had and mobilized to implement its chosen policies.