IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this paper

State-Society Relations and Intangible Dimensions of State Resilience and State Building: A Bottom-Up Perspective


  • Béatrice Pouligny


Crucial social and cultural elements underpin state institutions and ensure that they function. This is true in any context, but it is even more important to understand and truly acknowledge in “fragile” ones. Conventional perspectives need to be broadened and need to look at the multiplicity and diversity of political institutions (formal and in-formal), cultures and logics through which state resilience and state-building processes may be supported. Such an approach would help re-integrate the “intangible” dimensions that constitute the substantive content of institutions, their ethos, beyond their mere forms. Based upon concrete experiences in different African countries, this paper explains what these intangible dimensions are in three of the sectors usually concerned with reforms (politics, justice and security), and why they are important and should be better integrated in analyses, intervention strategies and aid programmes. An equally important dimension of such integration is that it would also allow better consideration of local capacities and resources to be taken, in particular in terms of resilience, and would allow it to go beyond the impression of “vacuum” or “chaos” too often given to situations of fragility. Finally, the paper presents some concrete recommendations to integrate these dimensions better into the priorities and modalities of European aid, as well as suggest a few avenues for further research on the subject.

Suggested Citation

  • Béatrice Pouligny, 2010. "State-Society Relations and Intangible Dimensions of State Resilience and State Building: A Bottom-Up Perspective," RSCAS Working Papers 2010/33, European University Institute.
  • Handle: RePEc:rsc:rsceui:2010/33

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    File Function: Full text
    Download Restriction: no

    More about this item


    fragility; resilience; state building; institutions; traditions; cultures;

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:rsc:rsceui:2010/33. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (RSCAS web unit). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    We have no references for this item. You can help adding them by using this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.