Studying the State Theoretical and Methodological Insights


Political Science Institute Philipps-Universität Marburg
Mondays 14:00 – 16:00 (CEST) / 15:00 - 17:00 (TSI)
14 Weeks (12 April 2021 - 16 July 2021)


This course brings forward a methodological approach to the state. Debates on the role and nature of the state are at the center of contemporary politics. Together with the erosion of liberal democracy and the rise of authoritarian regimes, the state is subject to a range of interpretations such as authoritarian state, failed state, exceptional state, and rogue state. Hence, not only the functions of the state in contemporary politics but also its formation, its re-scaling, its relations to other social organizations, and different parts of social life need to be explored. This course aims to open a discussion on competing accounts about nature, functions, and changing structure of the state in modern politics. In doing so, first, the existing approaches such as the Weberian approach, liberal/neo-liberal theories, structural-functionalist accounts, and Marxist state theory(s) will be elaborated. After a comparative elaboration of these approaches, the capitalist state as a formation, entity, and as an abstraction will be analyzed and its theoretical roots will be questioned. Assessing the existing methodologies and addressing alternative methodologies is the fundamental aim of this course. At the end of the course, participants will be able to answer the following questions:


Is the state a reality or an illusion?

How should the state be understood?

Where does the state start and end?

What are the limits of the state?

What is the relationship between state, society, and/or individual?


A full outline of the course syllabus can be found here.

Please note that there will be a preparatory meeting that will take place during the usual class hours one week before the class starts. In this meeting, we will introduce you how the platform works and we will offer technical support so that everybody is technically ready for the first session.



Dr. Ezgi Pınar currently carries out her post-doctoral studies in Philipps-Universität Marburg. She worked as a research assistant at Middle East Technical University and Istanbul University in Turkey. She completed her Ph.D. dissertation titled “The Question of Labour Force Management in Turkey: VET Policies from the State-Capital Relations Perspective” in 2016 and she studied the Working-Class Formation in the Democrat Party Period for her master’s degree. She has publications on the integration of Syrian migrant workers to the labour market in Turkey, on labour force management and state-capital relations in Turkey with respect to educational policy. Her most recent publication is A labour-oriented perspective on regime discussions in Turkey” in Regime Change in Turkey (2020, Routledge). Her research interests include theories of the state and neoliberal restructuring, critical political economy, labour politics, and Turkish politics.

Dr. Melehat Kutun has received her Ph.D. from Gazi University, Ankara. She has been a visiting Ph.D. student (2009-2010), and later a researcher (2015-2016) at University of York, UK. While she was working in Mersin University, Turkey, she was purged and dismissed for signing the “Academics for Peace Petition” in 2016. She became a guest lecturer and Philipp Schwartz fellow (2017-2020) at Universität Kassel. She is currently an Einstein Research fellow at Humboldt Universität and works on contemporary political theory, critical theories of the state, Turkish politics, and migration politics. Her forthcoming book, which she edited with Babacan, E., Pınar, E., Yılmaz, Z., is Regime Change in Turkey: Neoliberal Authoritarianism, Islamism, and Hegemony, London: Routledge.

Prof. Dr. Atilla Güney had his Ph.D. degree with a thesis titled “State Intervention in Turkey: An Assessment of the Relationship Between the Political and the Economic Sphere” at Middle East Technical University. When he was working at Mersin University in the department of Public Administration, he was purged with an emergency decree and was dismissed from the university for signing the “Academics for Peace Petition” in April 2017. Among his fields of interests are political philosophies, theories of the state, and epistemology in social sciences. Güney has published Sosyolojinin Marksist Reddiyesi (A Maxist Refutation of Sociology) by Yordam Kitap in 2019.

The course is hosted by Political Science Institute Philipps-Universität Marburg and funded by Philipp Schwartz Initiative.