Theorizing Fragmented State Capacity

  • Marco Just QuilesEmail author


In his seminal essay on the state and stateness in Latin America, Guillermo O’Donnell called attention to the high degree of unevenness with which states in the region appear to function throughout their territory and across the existing social stratification (1993:1358). Unlike, for instance, Scandinavian countries, most of the Latin American states would exhibit those “brown areas,” in which the state’s reach is limited and where it tends to compete or coexist with autonomous systems of local power; some to a lesser degree (Costa Rica, Chile, and Uruguay) and some to an extreme degree (Bolivia, Ecuador, and Colombia). O’Donnell’s idea of the “unevenness of stateness” has become an important reference for scholars studying state action, especially in those parts of the world where states appear to be somehow incapable of fulfilling some of their basic functions (Altman and Luna 2012, Boone 2012, Eaton 2012, Harbers 2014, Soifer 2015).


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Copyright information

© Springer Fachmedien Wiesbaden GmbH, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Lateinamerika-Institut (LAI)Freie Universität BerlinBerlinGermany

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