This article traces routes taken by social and political research to explain the state's role in relation to economy and society, and in explaining policies and government activities. Pluralist and structural functionalist approaches commanded the landscape of political science and sociology in the 1950s and 1960s in the United States, and before that in nineteenth century Europe, all centering around society. But a shift occurred with the "Keynesian revolution" culminating in current research that emphasizes the state as a powerful and influential actor in political and social processes, by virtue of its policies and typical relationships with social groups. The emphasis of contemporary study on the state is a theoretical reclamation of the role it played in familiar works of leading German scholars such as Max Weber and Otto Hintz. This article discusses the role and capacity of the state, as detailed through various texts.