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State-civil society relations in Gramsci, Poulantzas and Bourdieu: Strategic implications for the degrowth movement

Max Koch

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Elsevier BV


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Degrowth thought and strategies suffer from a tension between viewing the state as incapable of initiating transformational change and making a political appeal to it to do precisely this via targeted eco-social policies. While a small number of academic papers has theoretically addressed this tension, there is a lack in research on the strategic implications arising from conceptualizations of the state and state-civil society relations within degrowth/postgrowth approaches. Responding to the generally increased interest in strategic reasoning within the degrowth movement, the present paper examines the state theories of Antonio Gramsci, Nicos Poulantzas and Pierre Bourdieu under these auspices. It first compares and contrasts the three theories in respect to general characteristics of state-civil society relations. Subsequently, the paper addresses principles of domination, crisis and corresponding openings for oppositional movements. The discussion reflects on the main findings and identifies critical strategic implications.

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