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Neither an Instrument nor a Fortress

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Poulantzas’s Theory of the State and his Dialogue with Gramsci

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Peter Thomas has written an important book that brings forward the full importance of Gramsci’s strategic concepts and the pertinence they have for current theoretical and political debates. Based upon this interpretation of Gramsci, this text attempts a critical reading of the contradictory stance of the Althusserian School towards his work. Using Althusser’s own ambivalence towards Gramsci as a starting-point, the main aim of this article is to reconstruct Poulantzas’s direct and indirect dialogue with Gramsci. Despite Poulantzas’s reservations and criticisms regarding aspects of Gramsci’s work, his theoretical endeavour not only is indebted to Gramsci, but also represents, despite its shortcomings and limits, one of the more original and profound theoretical attempts to come to terms with the theoretical challenges posed by Gramsci’s elaboration on hegemony, hegemonic apparatuses and the ‘integral state’.

Affiliations: 1: Department of Sociology, University of the


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1. Althusser Louis Brewster Ben Lenin and Philosophy 1971 New York Monthly Review Press
2. Althusser Louis Lock Grahame Essays in Self-criticism 1976 London New Left Books
3. Althusser Louis Philosophy and the Spontaneous Philosophy of the Scientists & Other Essays 1990 London Verso
4. Althusser Louis Lettres à Franca (1961–1973) 1997 Paris Stock/IMEC
5. Althusser Louis Solitude de Machiavel et autres textes 1998 Paris Presses Universitaires de France [Crossref]
6. Althusser Louis Brewster Ben For Marx 2005 London Verso
7. Althusser Louis Goshgarian G.M. Philosophy of the Encounter: Later Writings, 1978–1987 2006 London Verso
8. Althusser Louis Lettres à Hélène 2011 Paris Grasset/IMEC
9. Althusser Louis , Balibar Étienne Brewster Ben Reading Capital 1970 London New Left Books
10. Balibar Étienne Cinque études du matérialisme historique 1974 Paris Maspero
11. Buci-Glucksmann Christine Fernbach David Gramsci and the State 1980 London Lawrence and Wishart
12. Goshgarian G.M. "‘Introduction’" 2006 in Althusser 2006
13. Gramsci Antonio Quintin Hoare , Nowell-Smith Geoffrey Selections from the Prison Notebooks 1971 London Lawrence and Wishart
14. Gramsci Antonio Cahiers de Prison 1978–1996 Vol five volumes Paris Gallimard
15. Gramsci Antonio Buttigieg Joseph A. Prison Notebooks 2007 Vol Volume 3 New York Columbia University Press
16. Jessop Bob Nicos Poulantzas: Marxist Theory and Political Strategy 1985 Basingstoke Macmillan
17. Poulantzas Nicos Fernbach David Classes in Contemporary Capitalism 1975 London New Left Books
18. Poulantzas Nicos Poulantzas "‘Les transformations actuelles de l’État, la crise politique et la crise de l’État’" 1976 1976
19. Poulantzas Nicos Political Power and Social Classes 1978 London Verso
20. Poulantzas Nicos White Judith Fascism and Dictatorship: The Third International and the Problem of Fascism 1979 London Verso
21. Poulantzas Nicos State, Power, Socialism 2000 London Verso
22. Poulantzas Nicos Martin James The Poulantzas Reader: Marxism, Law and the State 2008 London Verso
23. Poulantzas Nicos La Crise de l’État 1976 Paris Presses Universitaires de France/politiques
24. Thomas Peter D. The Gramscian Moment: Philosophy, Hegemony and Marxism 2009 Leiden Brill [Crossref]
25. Thomas Peter D. "‘Voies démocratiques vers le socialisme – Le retour de la question stratégique’" 2010 accessed 19 July 2011 available at: < >

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