Introduction: Semisovereignty challenged

Research output: Chapter in Book/Published conference outputChapter


The Semisovereign Model of Governance In political science, every once in a while, a book is published which redefines the way scholars think about a social phenomenon, a policy, a concept or an institution. It is, however, particularly rare for a book on the politics of a single country to have a similar impact: it is notoriously difficult to capture adequately the links between institutions, history, cultural environment and policy outcomes at the same time. More importantly, it is even more unusual for such a book to be accepted by the indigenous community of political scientists as one of the definitive accounts of that country. Peter Katzenstein's 1987 book, Policy and Politics in West Germany: the Growth of the Semisovereign State, is just such a contribution. Conceived of as an illustration of the limits of domestic state power, it locates institutional structures and policy outcomes in the Federal Republic of Germany (or West Germany before 1990) within the country's specific historical and societal context. Its central argument is that policy in West Germany was defined by ‘incremental outcomes’, a pattern which, moreover, remained broadly constant across changes of government. This stood in direct contrast, for instance, to the much more dramatic changes introduced by Margaret Thatcher after the Conservatives came to power in the UK in 1979. The tendency towards incremental outcomes, so the argument continued, was conditioned by the ‘semisovereign’ structure of the state, which sees decentralised state institutions pitted, often individually, against strong centralised societal organisations.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationGovernance in Contemporary Germany
Subtitle of host publicationThe Semisovereign State Revisited
PublisherCambridge University Press
Number of pages20
ISBN (Electronic)9780511807749
ISBN (Print)9780521848817
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2005

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© Cambridge University Press 2005.


Dive into the research topics of 'Introduction: Semisovereignty challenged'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this