Development geography and the third-world state

Jim Glassman, Abdi I Samatar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

54 Scopus citations


Soon after the third-world state was declared impotent, contradictory evidence pointing to the importance of state leadership in development in the Asian miracles came to the fore. This article, through a critical review of the literature, pushes this argument further and claims that geographers have much to contribute to the analysis of the state and its role in development. An appropriate framework for this kind of work is a marriage of radical political economy and certain strands of neo-Weberianism. We suggest that this conceptual union allows for broad theorizing of the capitalist state in the periphery while minding the institutional details of third-world states in particular regions and countries. This approach can help explain the differential performances of various third-world states within the confines of the world system. Thailand and Botswana are used as comparative cases to demonstrate the utility of this framework.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)164-198
Number of pages35
JournalProgress in Human Geography
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1997


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