The rise of the social state as a global model: A comparative and historical study, 1870–2000

Jared Furuta, Gili Drori*, John W. Meyer

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Beyond its variable organizational structures, the nation-state is an idea or model–a now-global institution. Since the late nineteenth century, and at an accelerated rate after World War II, the core ideological model of the state has expanded to incorporate authority over, and responsibility for, more aspects of society. We track the worldwide impact of this process by describing and analyzing the rise of eleven relevant cabinet ministries across 190 countries, from 1870 to 2000. We find that early in the period, state penetration occurred in areas seen as central to the collective good–education, welfare, health, statistics, and labor. After the war, areas involving the status of the individual and the rationalization of nature and society were added in global formulations. New ministries focused on women, children, and family life, along with ministries of higher education and the environment. We show that these changes occur globally, rather than mainly as the result of the internal characteristics of countries. The expanded state, beyond its power, reflects structuration under the influence of global models: as the nation-state model expands in associations and discourse at the world level, organizational structuration develops at the national level.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)13-43
Number of pages31
JournalEuropean Journal of Cultural and Political Sociology
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2024

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2024 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.


  • World society
  • institutional theory
  • ministries
  • social state
  • state-society


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