What role does the state play in post-conflict societies? How do local communities see the state? What are the do's and don'ts in state-building? What should be the priorities, is there a sequence that is best? These are the questions at the heart of the new article by Matthijs Bogaards, who seeks answers with the help of the most influential theory of politics in divided societies.
The state has never been a central category in consociational analysis, but recent developments have put the state on the radar of consociational scholars. This article is the first to survey and systematize insights on the role of the state in consociational theory and practice. The article does so by providing an overview and review of the answers to three guiding questions. First, who owns the state? Second, what comes first—consociation or state building? Third, is there an inevitable tradeoff between consociationalism and state strength? All these questions and answers have normative and empirical dimensions, and this article seeks to make a contribution to both. Empirically, the article formulates a research agenda. Theoretically and normatively, the article sketches an original consociational approach to the state that goes back to the early days of the Westphalian state system and has surprising relevance in today’s world.