In recent decades the political state has been implicated in genocide, mass violence, political oppression, and targeted deprivations. Yet, in the field of conflict analysis, the meaning of state “power over” in conflict settings is under-theorized. In this article I probe the conceptual depths of state power to show that such power is neither singular nor simple. It’s neither ahistorical nor asocial. Beneath the surface of the state’s wide-ranging practices of governing its political subjects is a fundamental paradox that juxtaposes the state’s authority as the rightful authority over its subjects against the state’s vulnerability to potentially de-stabilizing threats to such authority. Critical to the meaning of state power, this paradox is revealed in an entanglement of contrary forces of state legitimation and its de-legitimation by threatening forces. Such an entanglement is illustrated in the state’s power to protect the nation from aggressors, to enact laws, and to manage its political subjects. The paradox implies that state power is fundamentally conflictual and, as a result, suited perfectly for analysis by scholar-practitioners in our field.
"The Paradox of Power in Conflict Dynamics,"
Peace and Conflict Studies: Vol. 27
, Article 2.
Available at: https://nsuworks.nova.edu/pcs/vol27/iss2/2