In: Handbook of Fragile States, pp 19-38.
This chapter seeks to clarify what are the root causes of (state) fragility? It theorizes the root causes as drivers of fragility, bringing in structural, institutional, and behavioural dimensions to describe, understand, and explain the phenomenon. While each case of fragility is unique, some common patterns can clearly be identified. The chapter discusses fragility with reference to the state as the baseline concept. Being aware of this concept’s shortcomings, it acknowledges, first, that the baseline concept of a functioning and stable “state” is contested as such as it might be a potentially Western-based blueprint of a “democratic and capitalist state governed by the rule of law”(Krasner and Risse, 2014, p. 548). Second, the chapter admits that fragility (instead of putting the complete state in turmoil) can also occur at the sub-state level creating “situations of fragility”, as the OECD (2007) has famously labelled it. Third, it contends that the emergence of stable and effective institutions in specific societal contexts does not necessarily coincide with the existence of a (nation) state at the federal level. However, given the importance of the state as a structure creating or preventing war or peace, poverty or prosperity at the local, regional, and global stage, it is nevertheless necessary to understand, analyse, and explain (situations of) fragility in reference to existing well-functioning states and their dysfunctional counterparts.
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