Professor Daron Acemoglu (MIT) Public Lecture
Professor Daron Acemoglu, the Elizabeth and James Killian Professor of Economics at MIT and author of Why Nations Fail, will be speaking on "The balance of power: The race between state and society".
The public lecture will be preceded by Professor Acemoglu’s receipt of an honorary degree from the University of Bath. This honour celebrates both his outstanding work in the field and the University’s 50th Anniversary year.
All are welcome to attend this event, but tickets are limited so please register to ensure your place is reserved.
The balance of power: The race between state and society
In contrast to many leading theories, very different types of states and associated state-society relations emerge and endure under similar circumstances, but with far-reaching consequences for the prosperity, welfare and security of citizens.
In this lecture, Professor Acemoglu will explore how historical and political dynamics tend to push societies towards one of four model types of states: an Absent Leviathan, essentially corresponding to a society without an effective state that can resolve conflicts, coordinate actions or provide public services; a Paper Leviathan, where the state has the power to repress society in certain domains, but lacks the capacity to resolve conflicts or provide public services; a Despotic Leviathan, which has the capacity to both repress and provide public services, but tends to use its capacity much more to repress than to deal with problems paramount to citizens’ lives and provide public services they do not want or value; and finally a Shackled Leviathan, which has the capacity to resolve conflicts and provide public services, but is constantly checked and challenged ---shackled--- by society. It is the Shackled Leviathan that underpins many dimensions of human progress, including the ability of most people to achieve greater prosperity and security and live without constant fear of violence, bullying and intimidation from others.
Perhaps paradoxically, he will show that the emergence of a capable state as epitomized by the Shackled Leviathan necessitates not the ability of the state and political actors controlling it to dominate the rest of society (as many social scientists have argued) but a powerful society to compete against, threaten and constrain the state. In fact, we argue that the path in which the state and society to gain greater capacity in a perpetual race with each other, which we call the Red Queen effect, is central to both to the fundamental contribution of capable states to human met welfare and to the development of an assertive, mobile and active society.
Finally, he will delineate the economic, technological and political factors tend to locate countries in the “basins of attraction” of different Leviathans, thus influencing whether certain historical early conditions will take us towards one type or another of state-society relations.
About the speaker
Daron is regarded as one of the most influential economists of our times. His main fields of interest are in political economy and economic development where he made seminal contributions to the literature. Particularly influential is his work on the importance of institutions for economic development.
He is the author of several books including Why Nations Fail and Economic Origins of Dictatorship and Democracy (both co-authored by James Robinson, Harvard University) which received numerous awards.
He is editor-in-chief of Econometrica, Member of the editorial board of the Journal of Economic Growth and Chair of the nominating committee of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
He holds honorary degrees from the Universities of Athens, Bosporus and Utrecht, and in 2005 Professor Acemoglu won the John Bates Clark Medal.