The State in the 21st Century

Mariana Mazzucato l Mario Cimoli, Giovanni Dosi and Joseph Stiglitz l Jan Kregel l Luiz Bevilacqua l Anna Jaguaribe l John A. Mathews l Robert H. Wade l Benjamin Coriat l Ana Célia Castro l Leonardo Burlamaqui l Celia Lessa Kerstenetzky l Tiago Falcão and Patricia Vieira da Costa l Renato Boschi

Organizers: Ana Célia Castro I Fernando Filgueiras



Rio de Janeiro 21-23 March 2018 Colégio Brasileiro de Alto Estudos/UFRJ

Brasília 26-27 March 2018 Escola Nacional de Administração Pública/ENAP


Re-thinking the state requires responding to a global trajectory of worsening inequality, jobless growth and precarious ecological sustainability. Rethinking the state is fundamental to devising feasible new political coalitions that can result in state capacities capable of formulating and implementing policy agendas that will secure increased social well-being, sustainable development and human flourishing. This conference attempts to contribute to this task through a public-private dialogue.


“Rethinking the state in globalized capitalism” must begin with at least three elements:

  1. An analytical framework establishing a set of opportunities and constraints imposed by contemporary global capitalism upon national countries and on domestic policy space.
  2. A credible connection between the ongoing economic and technological transformations and the policies that a reconstructed state should implement for securing and advancing economic, social and political rights.
  3. A political project that would provide a plausible basis for enabling the state to pursue the new set of economic priorities and related policies.


Rethinking general formulations must be complemented by engagement with specific policy arenas. To ensure that general issues are linked to specific arenas of debate, the conference will be divided into five sessions, each with three subsections, addressing specific arenas in which we must rethink the state.


The project of the first three sessions is “Mapping the Terrain.” The first panel will deal with the implications of the profound changes in the geo-political relationships among major states that complement the shifting structure of the global economy and shape the policy space available to individual states. It will also consider the implications of global shifts in the cultural and ideological themes that form an equally important dimension of the terrain.


The second session moves to a more sectorally specific version of mapping the terrain, focusing on the dominant sector of the global economy – global finance – which, as currently structured, has a destructively extractive impact on domestic policy space and shrinks domestic policy space. It will explore possibilities for the construction of a financial structure that might be more compatible with an expansion of state capacity.


The third session shifts to mapping the new economic and social terrain generated by the transformation of the way in which goods and services are produced. Technological transformation, driven by quest for profit maximization, is redefining productive capacities and job opportunities in the global networks that produce physical goods and in an increasingly globalized the service sector. Understanding how state policies and capacities might intersect with this trajectory of transformation is obviously fundamental to rethinking the state.


The fourth session moves from mapping the terrain to the positive agenda of exploring strategies for constructing political alliances and state capacities respond to the challenges that set out in the previous sessions. Existing state structures have not proved themselves up to the task of delivering increased social well-being, sustainable development and human flourishing. Civil society and the state operate at cross-purposes in the promoting social change as often as they operate in concert. How can performance and results be improved, particularly in the face of the challenges outlined in the three previous sessions?


The final session returns to the most fundamental question, which is the construction of a political project that will enable both a response to the challenges outlined in the first three sessions and the implementation the positive project envisioned in the fourth session. Turning to the political project makes it clear that we cannot re-thinking the state in isolation from its relationship to civil society and the political institutions that connect state and society.


The interactions among the debates in different sessions and reverberations across sessions will be as productive as the discussions integral to each session. Taken as a whole, the sessions comprise an ambitious, but inescapably necessary, agenda of inquiry and debate. It is past time that the task of rethinking the state is taken up once again.


Peter Evans, Ana Célia Castro, Leonardo Burlamaqui, Renato Boschi