Beyond the State and Society-Centered
Theories of Policy Change
CCOP Working Paper #1999-05
Much of the field of political sociology is defined
by a confrontation between state- and society-centered theories
of policy making. State-centered theories (Evans, Rueschemeyer and
Skocpol 1985; Finegold 1995; Orloff, Orloff and Skocpol 1988; Shefter
1994; Skocpol 1979; Skocpol 1992; Skowronek 1982) emphasize the
effects of autonomous political actors, institutions, or opportunities
on the outcomes of policy- making processes, whereas society-centered
approaches (Baldwin 1990; Dahl 1961; Domhoff 1983; Domhoff 1996;
Esping-Andersen 1990; Lipset 1963; Moore Jr. 1966) focus on the
interests and motivations of collective actors in civil society.
Research has benefited greatly from the insights generated by both
schools, yet current scholarship suggests that the distinction between
state and society can be misleading (Somers 1995).