Is the state still the basic unit of political authority in OECD countries? International relations scholars discuss whether international institutions undermine or buttress state authority. Students of comparative political economy argue about the extent to which political authority has migrated to private market actors. We inventory and compare the main arguments in both debates. Our findings suggest a different pattern of state transformation than most participants in the debates implicitly assume. The key feature is not a zero-sum shift of political authority to nonstate actors but an unbundling and reconfiguration of authority. The segmental differentiation into largely self-contained national states is overlaid by a functionally differentiated order in which different dimensions of authority are exercised by different state and nonstate actors. The state remains focal, but its role changes from virtual monopolist to manager of political authority.


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