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《Academic Monthly》 2018-08
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Understanding State Autonomy:A Reinterpretation Based on Conceptual Analysis

MA Tianhang;XIONG Jue;  
State autonomy, as an important concept of social science research, has been widely used,but the understanding of the concept itself still stays on the surface and lacks in-depth analysis. After a fine-grained literature review of typical studies, we clarify the differences between "relative autonomy", "potential autonomy" and "bounded autonomy",and illustrate the conceptual boundaries of state subjectivity in various studies; that is to say, how it would be possible to treat the state as an organization or a field of power. We then construct a phased model of state autonomy with the use of two secondary concepts, which are state capacity and state preference. The level of state capacity determines the level of state preference, while some strategic policy decisions would considerably influence the long-term accumulation of state capacity. When state autonomy acts as a principal variable to explain institutional changes or performance, it must be placed under a certain temporal and spatial condition, along with specific policy issues and organizational forms. In addition, the secondary conceptual structures and choice of measurement indexes need to be clarified. On the contrary, a general comment on the degree of state capacity should be only treated as a perspective of analysis or a supplementary explanation.
【CateGory Index】: D03
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