Date of Award


Document Type



Edith Cowan University

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts Honours


School of International, Cultural and Community Studies


Faculty of Community Services, Education and Social Sciences

First Supervisor

Quentin Beresford


This thesis examines the problem of failed and failing states set against the 'theory' that has accompanied this discourse. It uses a case study of Papua New Guinea (PNG) to examine both the theory and its related application in the Failed States Index (FSI) developed by the Fund for Peace and the Foreign Policy magazine. Critically examining the methodology used in the FSI, the thesis analysis a wide range of information about the social, economic and political problems facing PNG to highlight shortcomings in the current construction of the Index. These shortcomings are then used to highlight conceptual problems in the construction of categories in failed state 'theory': weak, failing failed. Whereas PNG has been designated a weak state, the thesis argues that this categorisation is ambiguous and, possibly, inaccurate.