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Ordering Power: Contentious Politics and Authoritarian Leviathans in Southeast Asia (Cambridge Studies in Comparative Politics) Paperback – August 9, 2010

ISBN-13: 978-0521584012 ISBN-10: 0521165458 Edition: 0th

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Ordering Power: Contentious Politics and Authoritarian Leviathans in Southeast Asia (Cambridge Studies in Comparative Politics) + Competitive Authoritarianism: Hybrid Regimes After the Cold War (Problems of International Politics)
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Product Details

  • Series: Cambridge Studies in Comparative Politics
  • Paperback: 342 pages
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press (August 9, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0521165458
  • ISBN-13: 978-0521584012
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 0.8 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #706,926 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


"Three cheers for Dan Slater! One for showing that elite opposition to democracy has taken quite different forms in Southeast Asia. Another for revealing how different kinds of counterrevolutionary politics have been a response to different types of political challenges. And the third for demonstrating how comparative-historical analysis can brightly illuminate just these kinds of large and consequential processes. All serious students of state formation and democratization will want to read Ordering Power."
- Jeff Goodwin, New York University

"Ordering Power is one of the most important books on either political regimes or state-building to be published in the last two decades. Though focused on Southeast Asia, the book will be required reading for all students of democratization and state-building. Slater brings the state back into contemporary regime analyses, showing why state infrastructural power is critical to authoritarian stability. Based on impressive historical analysis, the book explores the roots of state power in Southeast Asia. Whereas much previous work on state-building focused on external military conflict, the book shows how internal conflict - and specifically, early periods of mass mobilization and communal conflict - may induce elites to enter a protection pact that can serve as a foundation for long-term authoritarian stability. Of the many recent studies of the sources of authoritarian stability, I find Ordering Power to be most compelling."
- Steven Levitsky, Professor of Government, Harvard University

"Ordering Power tackles big questions in a powerful and nuanced way, connecting to a broad range of important debates. Dan Slater has produced an extremely powerful and important book that will be of considerable interest to a wide-ranging audience in the social sciences, history, and Southeast Asian studies."
- T. J. Pempel, University of California, Berkeley

"With the publication of Ordering Power, Dan Slater has demonstrated with impressive skill and sophistication the importance of social forces and conflicts for underpinning authoritarian rule, in Southeast Asia and beyond, as well as the broader intellectual promise of an approach to comparative politics rooted in the tradition of comparative historical sociology. Slater has singlehandedly raised the standards - and the stakes - of cross-national comparative analysis of Southeast Asian politics. It is to be hoped that serious scholars of the region will rise to the challenge of engaging with his work."
- John T. Sidel, Sir Patrick Gillam Professor of International and Comparative Politics, London School of Economics and Political Science

"Slater's emphasis on noneconomic incentives for elite collective action is a welcome correction to a literature that has focused overwhelmingly on patronage as the central mechanism in authoritarian durability." -David Art, Comparative Politics

Book Description

Ordering Power draws on theoretical insights dating back to Thomas Hobbes to develop a unified framework for explaining the tremendous variation in state capacity and authoritarian durability in Southeast Asia. Comparative-historical analysis of seven Southeast Asian countries reveals that subtly divergent patterns of contentious politics after World War II provide the best explanation for the dramatic divergence in Southeast Asia's contemporary states and regimes.

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Nathaniel Lane on June 28, 2011
Format: Paperback
Ordering Power presents a well-articulated and precise theory to explain the different experiences of Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines, and other Southeast Asian leviathans. Tying together concepts from public finance and dominant tools in comparative politics, this book provides a convincing framework for explaining the region's diverse authoritarian routes.

In under 300 pages Slater lays out a type of recipe for a successful coercive (Asian) leviathan. Importantly, the type of conflict, rather than the extent, is the crux for explaining state variation. Nominal regional conflict do little to drive states toward authoritarianism, unlike redistributive class politics that penetrate urban, industrial centers. As comparative scholars like James Scott have noted, rural movements are far easier for communal elites to manage than all-out urban class upheavals. Particularly potent are conflicts that leave lasting, violent imprints within communities, or those that have the appearance of being "endemic and unmanageable."

Most interesting and novel is Slater's focus on taxes and elite collective action in sustaining authoritarian states. Contentious, endemic community and class conflict enable the state to centralize its authority, consolidate, and --importantly--impose direct taxes on threatened elites. However, it is not enough to merely dole out the rewards of state centralization amongst patrons--it must protect them from the contentious forces that had incited elite collective action in the first place. Thus, Slater suggests that contentious politics must drive a state to both "provide and protect."

Slater offers a lively-written and well researched tour of authoritarian Asia.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Ricky Recon on April 2, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Was a required textbook for a graduate course in State-Making. Excellent in that it is both well argued, clear, but also extremely well written. I agree with the previous reviewer that this book is an excellent example of the value of area studies and using thick descriptive fieldwork to build theory. I recommend this book to all those studying Comparative Politics.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Enjolras TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on March 29, 2011
Format: Paperback
The political science discipline has criticized qualitative research and area studies as not contributing to our theoretical understanding of politics. However, Dan Slater's Ordering Power should be Exhibit 1 in the case for qualitative and area studies research. Slater produces a brilliant theory addressing one of the biggest questions in the comparative politics field: authoritarian state formation. Slater proposes that strong authoritarian states are the products of "protection pacts" against leftist insurgencies. The strength of this pact depends upon whether the insurgency is perceived to be endemic and unmanageable, in which case elites are willing to sacrifice more of their autonomy in return for greater protection. Slater's case studies are pretty convincing in demonstrating his argument. I'm a Southeast Asianist myself and couldn't find any better explanation for elite politics in the countries than what he described. Ordering Power is highly recommended for any student of comparative politics and state formation.
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