In this session we wish to examine the development of state formation and public sector in the long-term run. In various perspectives, the active state is seen to be a threat and an opportunity to overcome current big societal challenges. Moreover, it is also possible to argue that in a more global economy states’ opportunities to promote societal change are significantly lower than they were in previous decades and centuries. The long-term perspective is particularly important because it helps not only to re-think the historical development but also to distinguish what the current challenges actually are and to avoid interpretations of a totally different past as a contrast for the present. Short-term studies may also overemphasize stability and path-dependence, as it is difficult to evaluate and measure incremental and cumulative changes which take effect over a longer time-span, during many decades and even centuries. Furthermore, an increasing historical knowledge has showed that the origin and implementation of state formation have substantially differed between countries. This session examines the following themes: How fragmented central and local government’s financial and administrative systems have developed towards a more central one?; What factors were main drivers of public sector growth in the long-term perspective?; Long-term historical preconditions which have explained differences in growing social spending and welfare state institutions.
In this session we especially encourage research which will be based on new quantitative or qualitative long-term data. Our goal is also to initiate broader discussion of fresh theoretical and methodological issues and new empirical findings and their relation to earlier interpretations and historical models.