“The Politics of Demanding Sacrifice: Applying Insights from Fiscal Sociology to the Study of AIDS Policy and State Capacity,” in The New Fiscal Sociology: Taxation in Comparative Perspective

Author(s): Evan Lieberman 

Status/Format: Published

Date: 2009

Publication Type: Book Chapter

Publisher: Cambridge University Press

Page Numbers: 105 - 119

Editor(s): Isaac Martin, Ajay Mehrotra, Monica Prasad


Joseph Schumpeter's stirring conclusion in a 1918 text, that "the spirit of a people, its cultural level, its social structure, the deeds its policy may prepare - all this and more is written in its fiscal history," serves as a mantra for a large body of fiscal sociological scholarship. However, the statement is, of course, hyperbole. Even the most ardent student of fiscal history could not read, as if off a tarot card, all of a state's or a society's actions or the content of its culture from its fiscal system. Among other reasons, this is true because the development of tax systems are largely path dependent processes - once developed, they are resistant to significant change, even when the initial conditions that produced those outcomes no longer exist. And although the extent of citizen consent or resistance to fiscal demands from the state is likely to indicate a state's overall authority, the challenges of taxing are distinct and independent from other aspects of governing. This chapter seeks to understand the extent to which insights gleaned from fiscal sociological analyses can provide theoretical and empirical guidance for explaining the development of other state capacities requiring a substantial degree of citizen compliance and consent.