Market States and Post Democracy - POLI6450

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Module delivery information

This module is not currently running in 2021 to 2022.


This module is situated at the interface of political theory and political economy. It seeks to explore the complex and multi-faceted links between democracy and capitalism in the period from 1848 to the present day. The particular focus is on relations between the state and the market as well as the evolution of different democratic regimes and market economies. Similar emphasis will be on conceptual issues and empirical evidence (though no statistical or econometric skills will be required).
The first part of the module examines the formation of 'market-states', beginning with a critical discussion of this concept. This will be the starting point for a wider engagement with Smithian, Marxist, Keynesian and neo-liberal accounts. The focus will be on those who theorise the conditions for the convergence of state and market. The second part turns to the evolution of democracy in relation to capitalism. A brief survey of the recent post-democracy literature will be followed by a discussion of key concepts. Examples include the conception of capitalism and democracy as "quasi-religions" (Walter Benjamin) and various arguments that formal democratic representation and abstract capitalist exchange engender a "society of spectacle".


Contact hours

150 hours including 22 hours of lectures and seminars and 128 study hours

Method of assessment

50% coursework; 50% exam.

Indicative reading

Giovanni Arrighi, The Long Twentieth Century. Money, Power, and the Origens of our Times (London: Verso, 1994)
Colin Crouch, Post-Democracy (Cambridge: Polity Press, 2004)
Richard Robison (ed.), The Neo-liberal Revolution: forging the market state (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2006)
Karl Polanyi, The Great Transformation. The Political and Economic Origins of our Time (Boston: Beacon Press, 2000)
Sheldon S. Wolin, Democracy Incorporated: Managed Democracy and the Specter of Inverted Totalitarianism (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2008)

See the library reading list for this module (Canterbury)

Learning outcomes

Analyse the relations between the state and the market since 1848.
Learn and apply different theories of capitalism and democracy.
Understand how market-states and post-democratic regimes emerge and evolve.
Evaluate reforms or transformations of capitalism and democracy.
Explore different strategies of resistance to post-democratic market-states.
Be familiar with alternatives to capitalism and democracy.


  1. ECTS credits are recognised throughout the EU and allow you to transfer credit easily from one university to another.
  2. The named convenor is the convenor for the current academic session.
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