Professor John Hoffman

Emeritus Professor

BA (Cape Town), MA, D. Phil. (Sussex)

Contact Details

  • Fax: +44 (0)116 252 5082

Research Summary

In 1995 I published Beyond the State. This developed the categories for my critique of the state which I further refined in my work on sovereigty and citizenship. Basically I argued that although Marxism itself is vulnerable to argument about revolution and class, the notion of the withering away of the state is an important one but needs more attention. I developed a distinction between the state and government, the latter referring to the negotiation and arbitration of conflicts of interest, whereas the former (and here I used Weber's celebrated definition) involves the use of force to tackle conflict. The use of force is inherently problematic since I argue that conflicts tackled by force, can never be resolved since the use of force involves treating subjects as things and creates fresh enemity. This is not an argument against the use of force in all circumstances since when conflicts cannot be resolved through social pressures, then force is tragically inevitable. To the distinction between state and government, corresponds the distinction between force and constraint: the use of constraint is linked to the process of government, and the more that states can rely upon governmental measures for tackling conflicts of interest, the more legitimate they become. This charts a realistic way, in my view, for looking beyond the state.

Current Research

I have finished a critique of the political philosopher, John Gray, which will published by the University of Wales and is entitled John Gray and the Problem of Utopia. The work seeks to reconstruct the notion of utopia so that it is compatible with history. I have spent the last six months developing a critique of both of (what I call) conventional religion and conventional atheism that seeks to reconstruct the notion of religion and God so that thelatter is compatible with materialism, science and history.

Recent Research Activities

  • Feminist Political Theory -gave on sovereignty 2004
  • Political Studies Association 2004. Paper on 'Ralph Miliband and the Withering Away of the State'

Recent Publications

  • Beyond the State Polity Press, 1995
  • Sovereignty Open University Press, 1998
  • Gender and Sovereignty Palgrave, 2001
  • Citizenship Beyond the State Sage, 2004
  • Introduction to Political Theory (with Paul Graham) Pearson, 2006
  • A Glossary of Political Theory Edinburgh University Press, 2007

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Contact Details

School of Politics and International Relations

University of Leicester
University Road
Leicester, LE1 7RH
United Kingdom

Tel: +44 (0)116 252 2702


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