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A state is a
polity A polity is an identifiable political entity—any group of people who have a collective identity, who are organized by some form of Institutionalisation, institutionalized social relation, social relations, and have a capacity to mobilize resourc ...
under a system of
governance Governance is all the processes of interactions be they through the laws Law is a system of rules created and law enforcement, enforced through social or governmental institutions to regulate behavior,Robertson, ''Crimes against humanity ...

governance
with a monopoly on force. There is no undisputed definition of a state. A widely used definition from the
German German(s) may refer to: Common uses * of or related to Germany * Germans, Germanic ethnic group, citizens of Germany or people of German ancestry * For citizens of Germany, see also German nationality law * German language The German la ...
sociologist
Max Weber Maximilian Karl Emil Weber (; ; 21 April 186414 June 1920) was a German Sociology, sociologist, historian, jurist, and political economy, political economist regarded as among the most important theorists of the development of Modernity, modern ...

Max Weber
is that a "state" is a polity that maintains a monopoly on the legitimate use of violence, although other definitions are not uncommon.Cudworth et al., 2007: p. 95Salmon, 2008
p. 54
A state is not synonymous with a government, as stateless governments like the
Iroquois Confederacy The Iroquois ( or ) or Haudenosaunee (; "People of the Longhouse") are an indigenous Indigenous may refer to: *Indigenous peoples Indigenous peoples, also referred to as First people, Aboriginal people, Native people, or autochthonous peo ...
exist. In a
federal union A federation (also known as a federal state) is a political entity A polity is an identifiable political entity—any group of people who have a collective identity, who are organized by some form of Institutionalisation, institutionalized ...

federal union
, the term "state" is sometimes used to refer to the federated polities that make up the
federation A federation (also known as a federal state) is a political entity A polity is an identifiable political entity—any group of people who have a collective identity, who are organized by some form of Institutionalisation, institutionalized ...

federation
. (Other terms that are used in such federal systems may include “province”, “region” or other terms.) Most of the human population has existed within a state system for
millennia A millennium (plural millennia or millenniums) is a period of one thousand year A year is the orbital period of a planetary body, for example, the Earth, moving in Earth's orbit, its orbit around the Sun. Due to the Earth's axial tilt, the ...

millennia
; however, for most of
prehistory Prehistory, also known as pre-literary history, is the period of human history Human history, or world history, is the narrative of Human, humanity's past. It is understood through archaeology, anthropology, genetics, and linguistics, ...
people lived in
stateless societies A stateless society is a society A society is a Social group, group of individuals involved in persistent Social relation, social interaction, or a large social group sharing the same spatial or social territory, typically subject to th ...
. The earliest forms of states arose about 5,500 years ago in conjunction with ,
invention of writing The history of writing traces the development of expressing language by letters or other marks and also the studies and descriptions of these developments. In the history of how writing systems A writing system is a method of visually repr ...
and codification of new forms of religion. Over time, a variety of different forms developed, employing a variety of justifications for their existence (such as divine right, the theory of the
social contract In moral A moral (from Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power ...
, etc.). Today, the modern
nation state A nation state is a political unit where the state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ''The State'' (newsp ...
is the predominant form of state to which people are subject.


Etymology

The word ''state'' and its cognates in some other
European languages Most languages of Europe belong to the Indo-European language family. Out of a total European population of 744 million as of 2018, some 94% are native speakers of an Indo-European language; within Indo-European, the three largest phyla are '' ...

European languages
(''stato'' in Italian, ''estado'' in Spanish and Portuguese, ''état'' in French, ''Staat'' in German) ultimately derive from the Latin word ''status'', meaning "condition, circumstances". Latin ''status'' derives from ''stare'', "to stand," or remain or be permanent, thus providing the sacred or magical connotation of the political entity. The English noun ''state'' in the generic sense "condition, circumstances" predates the political sense. It was introduced to
Middle English Middle English (abbreviated to ME) was a form of the English language spoken after the Norman conquest of England, Norman conquest (1066) until the late 15th century. The English language underwent distinct variations and developments following ...
c. 1200 both from
Old French Old French (, , ; Modern French French ( or ) is a Romance language of the Indo-European family. It descended from the Vulgar Latin of the Roman Empire, as did all Romance languages. French evolved from Gallo-Romance, the Latin spok ...
and directly from Latin. With the revival of the
Roman law Roman law is the system of , including the legal developments spanning over a thousand years of , from the (c. 449 BC), to the ' (AD 529) ordered by Eastern Roman emperor . Roman law forms the basic framework for , the most widely used legal s ...
in 14th-century Europe, the term came to refer to the legal standing of persons (such as the various "
estates of the realm 250px, A 13th-century French representation of the tripartite social order of the Middle Ages – ''Oratores'' ("those who pray"), ''Bellatores'' ("those who fight"), and ''Laboratores'' ("those who work"). The estates of the realm, or three est ...
" – noble, common, and clerical), and in particular the special status of the king. The highest estates, generally those with the most wealth and social rank, were those that held power. The word also had associations with Roman ideas (dating back to
Cicero Marcus Tullius Cicero ( ; ; 3 January 106 BC – 7 December 43 BC) was a Roman Roman or Romans usually refers to: *Rome, the capital city of Italy *Ancient Rome, Roman civilization from 8th century BC to 5th century AD *Roman people ...

Cicero
) about the "''status rei publicae''", the "condition of public matters". In time, the word lost its reference to particular social groups and became associated with the legal order of the entire society and the apparatus of its enforcement. The early 16th-century works of (especially ''
The Prince ''The Prince'' ( it, Il Principe ; la, De Principatibus) is a 16th-century political treatise written by Italian diplomat and political theorist Niccolò Machiavelli as an instruction guide for new princes and royals. The general theme of ''Th ...
'') played a central role in popularizing the use of the word "state" in something similar to its modern sense. The contrasting of church and state still dates to the 16th century. The North American colonies were called "states" as early as the 1630s. The expression (" I am the State") attributed to
Louis XIV , house = House of Bourbon, Bourbon , father = Louis XIII, Louis XIII of France , mother = Anne of Austria , birth_date = , birth_place = Château de Saint-Germain-en-Laye, Saint-Germain-en-Laye, Kingdom of France, F ...

Louis XIV
, although probably apocryphal, is recorded in the late 18th century.


Definition

There is no academic
consensus Consensus decision-making or consensus politics (often abbreviated to ''consensus'') is group decision-making processes in which participants develop and decide on proposals with the aim, or requirement, of acceptance by all. The focus on es ...

consensus
on the definition of the state.Cudworth et al., 2007: p. 1 The term "state" refers to a set of different, but interrelated and often overlapping, theories about a certain range of political
phenomena A phenomenon (; plural phenomena) is an observable fact or event. The term came into its modern philosophical Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fundamental questions, such as those about reason, existence, knowledge ...

phenomena
.Barrow, 1993: pp. 9–10 According to Walter Scheidel, mainstream definitions of the state have the following in common: "centralized institutions that impose rules, and back them up by force, over a territorially circumscribed population; a distinction between the rulers and the ruled; and an element of autonomy, stability, and differentiation. These distinguish the state from less stable forms of organization, such as the exercise of chiefly power." The most commonly used definition is by
Max Weber Maximilian Karl Emil Weber (; ; 21 April 186414 June 1920) was a German Sociology, sociologist, historian, jurist, and political economy, political economist regarded as among the most important theorists of the development of Modernity, modern ...

Max Weber
who describes the state as a compulsory political organization with a
centralized Centralisation or centralization (see spelling differences Despite the various English dialects spoken from country to country and within different regions of the same country, there are only slight regional variations in English orthog ...

centralized
government that maintains a
monopoly of the legitimate use of force The monopoly on violence or the monopoly of the legitimate use of physical force is a core concept of modern public law, which goes back to French jurist A jurist is a person with expert knowledge of law; someone who analyses and comments o ...
within a certain territory. Weber writes that the state "is a human community that (successfully) claims the monopoly of the legitimate use of physical force within a given territory."
Charles Tilly Charles Tilly (May 27, 1929 – April 29, 2008) was an American sociology, sociologist, political science, political scientist, and historian who wrote on the relationship between politics and society. He was a professor of history, sociology, and ...
defines states as "coercion-wielding organisations that are distinct from households and kinship groups and exercise clear priority in some respects over all other organizations within substantial territories." Tilly includes city-states, theocracies and empires in his definition along with nation-states, but excludes tribes, lineages, firms and churches. According to Tilly, states began appearing around 990, but became particularly prominent after 1490. Tilly defines a state's "essential minimal activities" as: # War making – "eliminating or neutralizing their own rivals" # State making – "eliminating or neutralizing their rivals inside their own territory" # Protection – "eliminating or neutralizing the enemies of their clients" # Extraction – "acquiring the means of carrying out the first three activities" # Adjudication – "authoritative settlement of disputes among members of the population" # Distribution – "intervention in the allocation of goods among the members of the population" # Production – "control of the creation and transformation of goods and services produced by the population" Liberal thought provides another possible teleology of the state. According to John Locke, the goal of the state or commonwealth is "the preservation of property" (Second Treatise on Government), with 'property' in Locke's work referring not only to personal possessions but also to one's life and liberty. On this account, the state provides the basis for social cohesion and productivity, creating incentives for wealth-creation by providing guarantees of protection for one's life, liberty and personal property. Provision of
public goods In economics Economics () is a social science Social science is the Branches of science, branch of science devoted to the study of society, societies and the Social relation, relationships among individuals within those societie ...
is considered by some such as
Adam Smith Adam Smith ( 1723 – 17 July 1790) was a Scottish economist, philosopher as well as a moral philosopher Ethics or moral philosophy is a branch of philosophy that "involves systematizing, defending, and recommending concepts of right and ...

Adam Smith
as a central function of the state, since these goods would otherwise be underprovided. Tilly has challenged narratives of the state as being the result of a societal contract or provision of services in a free market – he characterizes the state more akin as a protection racket in the vein of organized crime. While economic and political philosophers have contested the monopolistic tendency of states,
Robert Nozick Robert Nozick (; November 16, 1938 – January 23, 2002) was an American philosopher A philosopher is someone who practices philosophy. The term ''philosopher'' comes from the grc, φιλόσοφος, , translit=philosophos, meaning 'lov ...
argues that the use of force naturally tends towards monopoly. Another commonly accepted definition of the state is the one given at the
Montevideo Convention The Montevideo Convention on the Rights and Duties of States is a treaty signed at Montevideo, Uruguay, on December 26, 1933, during the Seventh International Conference of American States. The Convention codifies the declarative theory of statehoo ...
on Rights and Duties of States in 1933. It provides that " e state as a person of international law should possess the following qualifications: (a) a permanent population; (b) a defined territory; (c) government; and (d) capacity to enter into relations with the other states." And that " e federal state shall constitute a sole person in the eyes of international law." Confounding the definition problem is that "state" and "government" are often used as synonyms in common conversation and even some academic discourse. According to this definition schema, the states are nonphysical persons of
international law International law, also known as public international law and law of nations, is the set of rules, norms, and standards generally recognized as binding between nation A nation is a community A community is a social unitThe term "level of anal ...
, governments are organizations of people. The relationship between a government and its state is one of representation and authorized agency.


Types of states

Charles Tilly distinguished between empires, theocracies, city-states and nation-states. According to
Michael Mann Michael Kenneth Mann (born February 5, 1943) is an American film director, director, screenwriter, and Film producer, producer of film and television who is best known for his distinctive style of crime drama. His most acclaimed works include ...
, the four persistent types of state activities are: # Maintenance of internal order # Military defence and aggression # Maintenance of communications infrastructure # Economic redistribution States may be classified by
political philosophers This is a list of notable political philosophers, including some who may be better known for their work in other areas of philosophy. The entries are in order by year of birth to show rough direction of influences and of development of political t ...

political philosophers
as
sovereign Sovereign is a title which can be applied to the highest leader in various categories. The word is borrowed from Old French Old French (, , ; Modern French French ( or ) is a Romance language of the Indo-European family. It descende ...
if they are not dependent on, or subject to any other power or state. Other states are subject to external
sovereignty Sovereignty is the supreme authority within a territory. Sovereignty entails hierarchy within the state, as well as external autonomy for states. In any state, sovereignty is assigned to the person, body, or institution that has the ultimate a ...
or
hegemony Hegemony (, , ) is the political, economic, and military predominance of one state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (new ...
where ultimate sovereignty lies in another state. Many states are
federated state A federated state (which may also be referred to as a state, a , a region, a , a , a , an , an or a ) is a territorial and al community forming part of a . Such states differ from fully s, in that they do not have full sovereign powers, as th ...
s which participate in a
federal union A federation (also known as a federal state) is a political entity A polity is an identifiable political entity—any group of people who have a collective identity, who are organized by some form of Institutionalisation, institutionalized ...
. A federated state is a territorial and
constitution A constitution is an aggregate of fundamental principles A principle is a proposition or value that is a guide for behavior or evaluation. In law, it is a rule Rule or ruling may refer to: Human activity * The exercise of political ...

constitution
al community forming part of a
federation A federation (also known as a federal state) is a political entity A polity is an identifiable political entity—any group of people who have a collective identity, who are organized by some form of Institutionalisation, institutionalized ...

federation
. (Compare confederacies or confederations such as Switzerland.) Such states differ from
sovereign state A sovereign state is a political entity A polity is an identifiable political entity—any group of people who have a collective identity, who are organized by some form of Institutionalisation, institutionalized social relation, social relatio ...
s in that they have transferred a portion of their sovereign powers to a
federal government A federation (also known as a federal state) is a political entity A polity is an identifiable political entity—any group of people who have a collective identity, who are organized by some form of Institutionalisation, institutionalized ...
. One can commonly and sometimes readily (but not necessarily usefully) classify states according to their apparent make-up or focus. The concept of the nation-state, theoretically or ideally co-terminous with a "nation", became very popular by the 20th century in Europe, but occurred rarely elsewhere or at other times. In contrast, some states have sought to make a virtue of their multi-ethnic or
multinational Multinational may refer to: * Multinational corporation, a corporate organization operating in multiple countries * Multinational force, a military body from multiple countries * Multinational state, a sovereign state that comprises two or more nat ...
character (
Habsburg The House of Habsburg (), alternatively spelled Hapsburg in English (german: Haus Habsburg ; es, Casa de Habsburgo ; hu, Habsburg-család), also known as the House of Austria (german: link=no, Haus Österreich; es, link=no, Casa de Austria), ...
Austria-Hungary Austria-Hungary, often referred to as the Austro-Hungarian Empire or the Dual Monarchy, was a constitutional monarchy A constitutional monarchy, parliamentary monarchy, or democratic monarchy is a form of monarchy in which the monarch exe ...
, for example, or the
Soviet Union The Soviet Union,. officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. (USSR),. was a that spanned during its existence from 1922 to 1991. It was nominally a of multiple national ; in practice and were highly until its final years. The ...
), and have emphasised unifying characteristics such as
autocracy Autocracy is a system of government in which supreme power over a State (polity), state is concentrated in the hands of one person, whose decisions are subject to neither external legal restraints nor regularized mechanisms of popular control (ex ...
, monarchical legitimacy, or
ideology An ideology () is a set of belief A belief is an attitude Attitude may refer to: Philosophy and psychology * Attitude (psychology) In psychology Psychology is the science of mind and behavior. Psychology includes the study of ...
. Other states, often
fascist Fascism () is a form of far-right Far-right politics, also referred to as the extreme right or right-wing extremism, are politics further on the right of the left–right political spectrum than the standard political right, particular ...

fascist
or
authoritarian Authoritarianism is a form of government A government is the system or group of people governing an organized community, generally a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a mon ...
ones, promoted state-sanctioned notions of
racial superiority Supremacism is the belief that a certain group of people is superior to all others. The supposed superior people can be defined by age, gender Gender is the range of characteristics pertaining to, and differentiating between, femininity ...
. Other states may bring ideas of commonality and inclusiveness to the fore: note the ''
res publica ''Res publica'' (also spelt as ''rēs pūblica'' to indicate vowel length In linguistics Linguistics is the science, scientific study of language. It encompasses the analysis of every aspect of language, as well as the methods for stu ...
'' of ancient Rome and the ''
Rzeczpospolita Rzeczpospolita () is the official name of Poland Poland ( pl, Polska ), officially the Republic of Poland ( pl, Rzeczpospolita Polska, links=no ), is a country located in Central Europe. It is divided into 16 Voivodeships of Poland, a ...

Rzeczpospolita
'' of
Poland-LithuaniaPoland–Lithuania may refer to: * Polish–Lithuanian union from 1385 until 1569 * Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth from 1569 until 1795 See also

* Polish–Lithuanian (disambiguation) {{disambig ...
which finds echoes in the modern-day
republic A republic () is a form of government A government is the system or group of people governing an organized community, generally a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a month ...

republic
. The concept of temple states centred on religious shrines occurs in some discussions of the ancient world. Relatively small
city-state A city-state is an independent sovereign Sovereign is a title which can be applied to the highest leader in various categories. The word is borrowed from Old French Old French (, , ; Modern French French ( or ) is a Romance la ...
s, once a relatively common and often successful form of polity, have become rarer and comparatively less prominent in modern times. Modern-day independent city-states include
Vatican City Vatican City (), officially the Vatican City State ( it, Stato della Città del Vaticano; la, Status Civitatis Vaticanae),—' * german: Vatikanstadt, cf. '—' (in Austria: ') * pl, Miasto Watykańskie, cf. '—' * pt, Cidade do Vatica ...

Vatican City
,
Monaco Monaco (; ), officially the Principality of Monaco (french: Principauté de Monaco; Monégasque Ligurian: ''Prinçipatu de Mu̍negu''), is a sovereign Sovereign is a title which can be applied to the highest leader in various categories. The ...

Monaco
, and
Singapore Singapore (), officially the Republic of Singapore, is a sovereign state, sovereign island city-state in maritime Southeast Asia. It lies about one degree of latitude () north of the equator, off the southern tip of the Malay Peninsula, bor ...

Singapore
. Other city-states survive as federated states, like the present day German city-states, or as otherwise autonomous entities with limited sovereignty, like
Hong Kong Hong Kong (; , ), officially the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China (HKSAR), is a List of cities in China, city and Special administrative regions of China, special administrative region of China on the ...

Hong Kong
,
Gibraltar ) , anthem = "" , song = "" , image_map = Gibraltar location in Europe.svg , map_alt = Location of Gibraltar in Europe , map_caption = United Kingdom shown in pale green , mapsize = 290px , image_map2 = Gibraltar map-en-edit2.svg , map ...

Gibraltar
and
Ceuta Ceuta (, , ; ber, Sebta, script=Latn; ar, سَبْتَة, Sabtah) is a on the north coast of . Bordered by , it lies along the boundary between the and the . It is one of the several Spanish territories in Africa and, along with and the ...

Ceuta
. To some extent, urban secession, the creation of a new city-state (sovereign or federated), continues to be discussed in the early 21st century in cities such as
London London is the Capital city, capital and List of urban areas in the United Kingdom, largest city of England and the United Kingdom. It stands on the River Thames in south-east England at the head of a estuary down to the North Sea, and has b ...
.


State and government

A state can be distinguished from a
government A government is the system or group of people governing an organized community, generally a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Departmen ...

government
. The state is the organization while the government is the particular group of people, the administrative
bureaucracy The term bureaucracy () may refer both to a body of non-elected governing officials (bureaucrats A bureaucrat is a member of a bureaucracy and can compose the administration of any organization of any size, although the term usually connotes ...

bureaucracy
that controls the state apparatus at a given time.Flint & Taylor, 2007: p. 137 That is, governments are the means through which state power is employed. States are served by a continuous succession of different governments. States are immaterial and nonphysical social objects, whereas governments are groups of people with certain coercive powers. Each successive government is composed of a specialized and privileged body of individuals, who monopolize political decision-making, and are separated by status and organization from the population as a whole.


States and nation-states

States can also be distinguished from the concept of a "
nation A nation is a community A community is a social unit (a group of living things) with commonality such as Norm (social), norms, religion, values, Convention (norm), customs, or Identity (social science), identity. Communities may share a sense ...

nation
", where "nation" refers to a cultural-political community of people. A
nation-state A nation state is a political unit where the state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ''The State'' (newsp ...
refers to a situation where a single ethnicity is associated with a specific state.


State and civil society

In the classical thought, the state was identified with both political society and
civil society Civil society can be understood as the "third sector" of society, distinct from government A government is the system or group of people governing an organized community, generally a State (polity), state. In the case of its broad ...
as a form of political community, while the modern thought distinguished the
nation state A nation state is a political unit where the state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ''The State'' (newsp ...
as a political society from civil society as a form of economic society. Thus in the modern thought the state is contrasted with civil society.
Antonio Gramsci Antonio Francesco Gramsci (, ; ; 22 January 1891 – 27 April 1937) was an Italian Marxist Marxism is a method of socioeconomic Socioeconomics (also known as social economics) is the social science that studies how economic activity affe ...
believed that civil society is the primary locus of political activity because it is where all forms of "identity formation, ideological struggle, the activities of intellectuals, and the construction of
hegemony Hegemony (, , ) is the political, economic, and military predominance of one state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (new ...
take place." and that civil society was the nexus connecting the economic and political sphere. Arising out of the collective actions of civil society is what Gramsci calls "political society", which Gramsci differentiates from the notion of the state as a polity. He stated that politics was not a "one-way process of political management" but, rather, that the activities of civil organizations conditioned the activities of political parties and state institutions, and were conditioned by them in turn.
Louis Althusser Louis Pierre Althusser (, ; ; 16 October 1918 – 22 October 1990) was a French Marxist philosopher Marxism is a method of socioeconomic analysis that uses a materialist interpretation of historical development, better known as historical m ...
argued that civil organizations such as
church Church may refer to: Religion * Church (building) A church building, church house, or simply church, is a building used for Christian worship services and other Christian religious activities. The term is usually used to refer to the p ...

church
,
school A school is an educational institution designed to provide learning spaces and learning environments for the teaching of students under the direction of teachers. Most countries have systems of formal education, which is sometimes compuls ...

school
s, and the
family In , family (from la, familia) is a of people related either by (by recognized birth) or (by marriage or other relationship). The purpose of families is to maintain the well-being of its members and of society. Ideally, families would off ...

family
are part of an "ideological state apparatus" which complements the "repressive state apparatus" (such as police and military) in reproducing social relations.
Jürgen Habermas Jürgen Habermas (, ; ; born 18 June 1929) is a German philosopher A philosopher is someone who practices philosophy Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fundamental questions, such as those about reason, Metaphysics, e ...
spoke of a
public sphere The public sphere (german: Öffentlichkeit) is an area in social life where individuals can come together to freely discuss and identify societal problems, and through that discussion influence political action. A "Public" is "of or concerning th ...
that was distinct from both the economic and political sphere. Given the role that many social groups have in the development of public policy and the extensive connections between state bureaucracies and other institutions, it has become increasingly difficult to identify the boundaries of the state.
Privatization Privatization (or privatisation in British English) can mean several different things, most commonly referring to moving something from the public sector into the private sector. It is also sometimes used as a synonym for deregulation when a heav ...
,
nationalization Nationalization (or nationalisation) is the process of transforming privately-owned asset In financial accountancy, financial accounting, an asset is any resource owned or controlled by a business or an economic entity. It is anything (tangi ...
, and the creation of new
regulatory Regulation is the management of complex systems according to a set of rules and trends. In systems theory, these types of rules exist in various fields of biology and society, but the term has slightly different meanings according to context. For ...

regulatory
bodies also change the boundaries of the state in relation to society. Often the nature of quasi-autonomous organizations is unclear, generating debate among political scientists on whether they are part of the state or civil society. Some political scientists thus prefer to speak of policy networks and decentralized governance in modern societies rather than of state bureaucracies and direct state control over policy.


State symbols

*
flag A flag is a piece of fabric A textile is a flexible material made by creating an interlocking network of yarn Yarn is a long continuous length of interlocked fibres, suitable for use in the production of textiles, sewing, crochetin ...

flag
*
coat of arms#REDIRECT coat of arms A coat of arms is a heraldry, heraldic communication design, visual design on an escutcheon (heraldry), escutcheon (i.e., shield), surcoat, or tabard. The coat of arms on an escutcheon forms the central element of the fu ...
or
national emblem The national emblem means "national crest / shield emblem or logo design", which represents the image and dignity of the country's political power and people. It is one of the symbols of a country's political power.The national emblem is an emble ...
* seal or stamp *
national motto This article lists state and national mottos for the world's nations. The mottos for some List of unrecognized countries, states lacking general international recognition, List of extinct states, extinct states, non-sovereign nations, regions, and ...
*
national colorsNational colours are frequently part of a country's set of national symbols. Many states and nations have formally adopted a set of Color, colours as their official "national colours" while others have ''de facto'' national colours that have become ...
*
national anthem A national anthem is a patriotic Patriotism or national pride is the feeling of love, devotion, and sense of attachment to a homeland and alliance with other citizens who share the same sentiment. This attachment can be a combination of ...


History

The earliest forms of the state emerged whenever it became possible to centralize power in a durable way. Agriculture and a settled population have been attributed as necessary conditions to form states. Certain types of agriculture are more conducive to state formation, such as grain (wheat, barley, millet), because they are suited to concentrated production, taxation, and storage.
Agriculture Agriculture is the science, art and practice of cultivating plants and livestock. Agriculture was the key development in the rise of sedentary Image:Family watching television 1958.jpg, Exercise trends, Increases in sedentary behaviors su ...

Agriculture
and
writing Writing is a medium of human communication Communication (from Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area arou ...

writing
are almost everywhere associated with this process: agriculture because it allowed for the emergence of a
social class A social class is a set of concepts in the social sciences Social science is the Branches of science, branch of science devoted to the study of society, societies and the Social relation, relationships among individuals within those soc ...
of people who did not have to spend most of their time providing for their own subsistence, and writing (or an equivalent of writing, like
Inca The Inca Empire, also Quechuan and Aymaran spelling shift, known as Incan Empire and the Inka Empire, and at the time known as the Realm of the Four Parts,,  "four parts together" was the largest empire in pre-Columbian America. The admin ...

Inca
quipu Quipu (also spelled khipu) are recording devices fashioned from historically used by a number of cultures in the region of . Knotted strings for collecting data, government management and keeping records were also used by the , and , but ...

quipu
s) because it made possible the centralization of vital information. Bureaucratization made expansion over large territories possible. The first known states were created in the
Egypt Egypt ( ar, مِصر, Miṣr), officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, is a transcontinental country This is a list of countries located on more than one continent A continent is one of several large landmasses. Generally identi ...

Egypt
,
Mesopotamia Mesopotamia ( grc, Μεσοποταμία ''Mesopotamíā''; ar, بِلَاد ٱلرَّافِدَيْن ; syc, ܐܪܡ ܢܗܪ̈ܝܢ, or , ) is a historical region of Western Asia situated within the Tigris–Euphrates river system, in th ...

Mesopotamia
,
India India, officially the Republic of India (Hindi Hindi (Devanagari: , हिंदी, ISO 15919, ISO: ), or more precisely Modern Standard Hindi (Devanagari: , ISO 15919, ISO: ), is an Indo-Aryan language spoken chiefly in Hindi Belt, ...

India
,
China China (), officially the People's Republic of China (PRC; ), is a country in East Asia East Asia is the eastern region of Asia Asia () is Earth's largest and most populous continent, located primarily in the Eastern Hemisphere ...
,
Mesoamerica Mesoamerica is a historical and important region In geography, regions are areas that are broadly divided by physical characteristics (physical geography), human impact characteristics (human geography), and the interaction of humanity and the ...
, and the
Andes The Andes, Andes Mountains or Andean Mountains ( es, Cordillera de los Andes) are the List of mountain ranges#Mountain ranges by length, longest continental mountain range in the world, forming a continuous highland along the western edge of Sou ...
. It is only in relatively
modern timesModern Times may refer to modern history. Modern Times may also refer to: Music * Modern Times (band), a band from Luxembourg * Modern Times (Al Stewart album), ''Modern Times'' (Al Stewart album), a 1975 album by Al Stewart * Modern Times (Bob Dy ...
that states have almost completely displaced alternative " stateless" forms of political organization of societies all over the
planet A planet is an astronomical body orbiting a star or Stellar evolution#Stellar remnants, stellar remnant that is massive enough to be Hydrostatic equilibrium, rounded by its own gravity, is not massive enough to cause thermonuclear fusion, and ...

planet
. Roving bands of
hunter-gatherer A hunter-gatherer is a human Humans (''Homo sapiens'') are the most populous and widespread species of primates, characterized by bipedality, opposable thumbs, hairlessness, and intelligence allowing the use of culture, language and tools. T ...
s and even fairly sizable and complex
tribal societies The term tribe is used in many different contexts to refer to a category of human Humans (''Homo sapiens'') are the most populous and widespread species of primates, characterized by bipedality, opposable thumbs, hairlessness, and intellig ...
based on
herding Herding is the act of bringing individual animals together into a group (herd), maintaining the group, and moving the group from place to place—or any combination of those. Herding can refer either to the process of animals forming herds in ...

herding
or
agriculture Agriculture is the science, art and practice of cultivating plants and livestock. Agriculture was the key development in the rise of sedentary Image:Family watching television 1958.jpg, Exercise trends, Increases in sedentary behaviors su ...

agriculture
have existed without any full-time specialized state organization, and these "stateless" forms of political organization have in fact prevailed for all of the
prehistory Prehistory, also known as pre-literary history, is the period of human history Human history, or world history, is the narrative of Human, humanity's past. It is understood through archaeology, anthropology, genetics, and linguistics, ...
and much of the history of the human species and
civilization  A civilization (or civilisation) is a complex society A complex society is a concept that is shared by a range of disciplines including anthropology, archaeology, history and sociology to describe a stage of social formation. The concep ...

civilization
. The primary competing organizational forms to the state were religious organizations (such as the Church), and city republics. Since the late 19th century, virtually the entirety of the world's inhabitable land has been parcelled up into areas with more or less definite borders claimed by various states. Earlier, quite large land areas had been either unclaimed or uninhabited, or inhabited by
nomad A nomad ( frm, nomade "people without fixed habitation") is a member of a community without fixed habitation who regularly moves to and from the same areas. Such groups include hunter-gatherer A hunter-gatherer is a human Humans (''Homo ...

nomad
ic peoples who were not organised as states. However, even within present-day states there are vast areas of wilderness, like the
Amazon rainforest The Amazon rainforest, alternatively, the Amazon jungle or ; es, Selva amazónica, , or usually ; french: Forêt amazonienne; nl, Amazoneregenwoud. In English, the names are sometimes capitalized further, as Amazon Rainforest, Amazon Forest ...

Amazon rainforest
, which are uninhabited or inhabited solely or mostly by
indigenous people Indigenous peoples, also referred to as first peoples, first nations, aboriginal peoples, native peoples (with these terms often capitalized when referred to relating to specific countries), or autochthonous peoples, are culturally distinct et ...

indigenous people
(and some of them remain uncontacted). Also, there are so-called "
failed states A failed state is a political body that has disintegrated to a point where basic conditions and responsibilities of a sovereign Sovereign is a title which can be applied to the highest leader in various categories. The word is borrowed from O ...
" which do not hold de facto control over all of their claimed territory or where this control is challenged. Currently the international community comprises around 200
sovereign states A sovereign state is a political entity A polity is an identifiable political entity—any group of people who have a collective identity, who are organized by some form of Institutionalisation, institutionalized social relation, social relation ...

sovereign states
, the vast majority of which are represented in the
United Nations The United Nations (UN) is an intergovernmental organization aiming to maintain international peace and international security, security, develop friendly relations among nations, achieve international cooperation, and be a centre for harm ...

United Nations
.


Pre-historic stateless societies

For most of human history, people have lived in
stateless societies A stateless society is a society A society is a Social group, group of individuals involved in persistent Social relation, social interaction, or a large social group sharing the same spatial or social territory, typically subject to th ...
, characterized by a lack of concentrated authority, and the absence of large
inequalities Inequality may refer to: Economics * Attention inequality, unequal distribution of attention across users, groups of people, issues in etc. in attention economy * Economic inequality, difference in economic well-being between population groups * I ...
in economic and
political power In social science Social science is the Branches of science, branch of science devoted to the study of society, societies and the Social relation, relationships among individuals within those societies. The term was formerly used to refe ...
. The anthropologist writes:


Neolithic period

During the
Neolithic The Neolithic period is the final division of the Stone Age The Stone Age was a broad prehistoric Prehistory, also known as pre-literary history, is the period of human history Human history, also known as world history, is t ...
period, human societies underwent major cultural and economic changes, including the development of
agriculture Agriculture is the science, art and practice of cultivating plants and livestock. Agriculture was the key development in the rise of sedentary Image:Family watching television 1958.jpg, Exercise trends, Increases in sedentary behaviors su ...

agriculture
, the formation of sedentary societies and fixed settlements, increasing population densities, and the use of pottery and more complex tools. Sedentary agriculture led to the development of
property rights The right to property, or the right to own property (cf. ownership Ownership is the state or fact of exclusive rights and control over property, which may be any asset, including an object, land or real estate, intellectual property, or until th ...
,
domestication Domestication is a sustained multi-generational relationship in which one group of organisms assumes a significant degree of influence over the reproduction and care of another group to secure a more predictable supply of resources from that sec ...
of plants and animals, and larger family sizes. It also provided the basis for the centralized state form by producing a large surplus of food, which created a more complex
division of labor Division or divider may refer to: Mathematics *Division (mathematics) Division is one of the four basic operations of arithmetic, the ways that numbers are combined to make new numbers. The other operations are addition, subtraction, and multi ...
by enabling people to specialize in tasks other than food production. Early states were characterized by highly
stratified Stratification may refer to: In mathematics: * Stratification (mathematics), any consistent assignment of numbers to predicate symbols * Stratified sampling , Data stratification in statistics In earth sciences: * Stable and unstable stratificati ...
societies, with a privileged and wealthy ruling class that was subordinate to a
monarch A monarch is a head of state A head of state (or chief of state) is the public persona A persona (plural personae or personas), depending on the context, can refer to either the public image of one's personality, or the social role tha ...

monarch
. The ruling classes began to differentiate themselves through forms of architecture and other cultural practices that were different from those of the subordinate laboring classes. In the past, it was suggested that the centralized state was developed to administer large public works systems (such as irrigation systems) and to regulate complex economies. However, modern archaeological and anthropological evidence does not support this thesis, pointing to the existence of several non-stratified and politically decentralized complex societies.


Ancient Eurasia

Mesopotamia Mesopotamia ( grc, Μεσοποταμία ''Mesopotamíā''; ar, بِلَاد ٱلرَّافِدَيْن ; syc, ܐܪܡ ܢܗܪ̈ܝܢ, or , ) is a historical region of Western Asia situated within the Tigris–Euphrates river system, in th ...

Mesopotamia
is generally considered to be the location of the earliest
civilization  A civilization (or civilisation) is a complex society A complex society is a concept that is shared by a range of disciplines including anthropology, archaeology, history and sociology to describe a stage of social formation. The concep ...

civilization
or
complex society A complex society is a concept that is shared by a range of disciplines including anthropology Anthropology is the scientific study of human Humans (''Homo sapiens'') are the most abundant and widespread species In biology ...
, meaning that it contained
cities A city is a large human settlement In geography, statistics and archaeology, a settlement, locality or populated place is a community in which people live. The complexity of a settlement can range from a small number of dwellings grouped to ...
, full-time
division of labor Division or divider may refer to: Mathematics *Division (mathematics) Division is one of the four basic operations of arithmetic, the ways that numbers are combined to make new numbers. The other operations are addition, subtraction, and multi ...
, social concentration of wealth into
capital Capital most commonly refers to: * Capital letter Letter case (or just case) is the distinction between the letters that are in larger uppercase or capitals (or more formally ''majuscule'') and smaller lowercase (or more formally ''minusc ...
, unequal distribution of wealth, ruling classes, community ties based on residency rather than
kinship In anthropology, kinship is the web of social relationships that form an important part of the lives of all humans in all societies, although its exact meanings even within this discipline are often debated. Anthropologist Robin Fox states th ...

kinship
, long distance
trade Trade involves the transfer of goods from one person or entity to another, often in exchange for money. Economists refer to a system A system is a group of Interaction, interacting or interrelated elements that act according to a set of r ...

trade
,
monument is regarded as an enduring symbol of Ancient Greece Ancient Greece ( el, Ἑλλάς, Hellás) was a civilization belonging to a period of History of Greece, Greek history from the Greek Dark Ages of the 12th–9th centuries BC to the end o ...

monument
al
architecture upright=1.45, alt=Plan d'exécution du second étage de l'hôtel de Brionne (dessin) De Cotte 2503c – Gallica 2011 (adjusted), Plan of the second floor (attic storey) of the Hôtel de Brionne in Paris – 1734. Architecture (Latin ''archi ...

architecture
, standardized forms of
art Art is a diverse range of (products of) human activities Humans (''Homo sapiens'') are the most populous and widespread species of primates, characterized by bipedality, opposable thumbs, hairlessness, and intelligence allowing the use ...

art
and culture, writing, and
mathematics Mathematics (from Greek: ) includes the study of such topics as numbers (arithmetic and number theory), formulas and related structures (algebra), shapes and spaces in which they are contained (geometry), and quantities and their changes (cal ...
and
science Science () is a systematic enterprise that builds and organizes knowledge Knowledge is a familiarity or awareness, of someone or something, such as facts A fact is something that is truth, true. The usual test for a statement of ...

science
. It was the world's first
literate Literacy is popularly understood as an ability to read and write in at least one method of writing, an understanding reflected by mainstream dictionaries. Correspondingly, the term ''illiteracy'' is considered to be the inability to read an ...
civilization, and formed the first sets of written
laws Law is a system A system is a group of interacting Interaction is a kind of action that occurs as two or more objects have an effect upon one another. The idea of a two-way effect is essential in the concept of interaction, as oppose ...

laws
.


Classical antiquity

Although state-forms existed before the rise of the Ancient Greek empire, the Greeks were the first people known to have explicitly formulated a political philosophy of the state, and to have rationally analyzed political institutions. Prior to this, states were described and justified in terms of religious myths. Several important political innovations of
classical antiquity Classical antiquity (also the classical era, classical period or classical age) is the period of cultural history History (from Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, ...
came from the
Greek city-states ''Polis'' (, ; grc-gre, πόλις, ), plural ''poleis'' (, , ), literally means "city A city is a large human settlement.Goodall, B. (1987) ''The Penguin Dictionary of Human Geography''. London: Penguin.Kuper, A. and Kuper, J., eds (199 ...
and the
Roman Republic The Roman Republic ( la, Rēs pūblica Rōmāna ) was a state of the classical Roman civilization, run through public In public relations Public relations (PR) is the practice of managing and disseminating information from an indiv ...
. The Greek city-states before the 4th century granted
citizenship Citizenship is a relationship between an individual and a state to which the individual owes allegiance and in turn is entitled to its protection. Each state determines the conditions under which it will recognize persons as its citizens, and th ...
rights to their free population, and in
Athens , image_skyline = File:Athens Montage L.png, center, 275px, alt=Athens montage. Clicking on an image in the picture causes the browser to load the appropriate article. rect 15 15 985 460 Acropolis of Athens rect 15 475 48 ...

Athens
these rights were combined with a directly democratic form of government that was to have a long afterlife in political thought and history.


Feudal state

During Medieval times in Europe, the state was organized on the principle of
feudalism Feudalism, also known as the feudal system, was the combination of the legal, economic, military, and cultural customs that flourished in Medieval Europe In the history of Europe The history of Europe concerns itself with the disc ...
, and the relationship between
lord Lord is an appellation for a person or deity who has authority, control, or power (social and political), power over others, acting as a master, a chief, or a ruler. The appellation can also denote certain persons who hold a title of the Peera ...

lord
and
vassal A vassal or liege subject is a person regarded as having a mutual obligation to a lord Lord is an appellation for a person or deity who has authority, control, or power (social and political), power over others, acting as a master, a chief ...
became central to social organization. Feudalism led to the development of greater social hierarchies. The formalization of the struggles over taxation between the monarch and other elements of society (especially the nobility and the cities) gave rise to what is now called the Standestaat, or the state of Estates, characterized by parliaments in which key social groups negotiated with the king about legal and economic matters. These
estates of the realm 250px, A 13th-century French representation of the tripartite social order of the Middle Ages – ''Oratores'' ("those who pray"), ''Bellatores'' ("those who fight"), and ''Laboratores'' ("those who work"). The estates of the realm, or three est ...
sometimes evolved in the direction of fully-fledged parliaments, but sometimes lost out in their struggles with the monarch, leading to greater centralization of lawmaking and military power in his hands. Beginning in the 15th century, this centralizing process gives rise to the absolutist state.


Modern state

Cultural and national homogenization figured prominently in the rise of the modern state system. Since the absolutist period, states have largely been organized on a
nation A nation is a community A community is a social unit (a group of living things) with commonality such as Norm (social), norms, religion, values, Convention (norm), customs, or Identity (social science), identity. Communities may share a sense ...

nation
al basis. The concept of a national state, however, is not synonymous with
nation state A nation state is a political unit where the state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ''The State'' (newsp ...
. Even in the most
ethnic An ethnic group or ethnicity is a grouping of people A people is any plurality of person A person (plural people or persons) is a being that has certain capacities or attributes such as reason Reason is the capacity of consciously a ...

ethnic
ally homogeneous societies there is not always a complete correspondence between state and
nation A nation is a community A community is a social unit (a group of living things) with commonality such as Norm (social), norms, religion, values, Convention (norm), customs, or Identity (social science), identity. Communities may share a sense ...

nation
, hence the active role often taken by the state to promote
nationalism Nationalism is an idea and movement that holds that the nation A nation is a community A community is a social unitThe term "level of analysis" is used in the social sciences to point to the location, size, or scale of a research target ...
through emphasis on shared symbols and national identity. Charles Tilly argues that the number of total states in Western Europe declined rapidly from the Late Middle Ages to Early Modern Era during a process of state formation. Other research has disputed whether such a decline took place. According to Hendrik Spruyt, the modern state is different from its predecessor polities in two main aspects: (1) Modern states have greater capacity to intervene in their societies, and (2) Modern states are buttressed by the principle of international legal sovereignty and the juridicial equivalence of states. The two features began to emerge in the Late Middle Ages but the modern state form took centuries to come firmly into fruition. Other aspects of modern states is that they tend to be organized as unified national polities, and that they have rational-legal bureaucracies. Sovereign equality did not become fully global until after World War II amid decolonization. Adom Getachew writes that it was not until the 1960 Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples that the international legal context for popular sovereignty was instituted.


Theories for the emergence of the state


Earliest states

Theories for the emergence of the earliest states emphasize Cereal, grain agriculture and settled populations as necessary conditions. Some argue that climate change led to a greater concentration of human populations around dwindling waterways.


Modern state

Hendrik Spruyt distinguishes between three prominent categories of explanations for the emergence of the modern state as a dominant polity: (1) Security-based explanations that emphasize the role of warfare, (2) Economy-based explanations that emphasize trade, property rights and capitalism as drivers behind state formation, and (3) Institutionalist theories that sees the state as an organizational form that is better able to resolve conflict and cooperation problems than competing political organizations. According to Philip S. Gorski, Philip Gorski and Vivek Swaroop Sharma, the "neo-Darwinian" framework for the emergence of sovereign states is the dominant explanation in the scholarship. The neo-Darwininian framework emphasizes how the modern state emerged as the dominant organizational form through natural selection and competition.


Theories of state function

Most political theories of the state can roughly be classified into two categories. The first are known as "liberal" or "conservative" theories, which treat capitalism as a given, and then concentrate on the function of states in capitalist society. These theories tend to see the state as a neutral entity separated from society and the economy. Marxist and anarchist theories on the other hand, see politics as intimately tied in with economic relations, and emphasize the relation between economic power and
political power In social science Social science is the Branches of science, branch of science devoted to the study of society, societies and the Social relation, relationships among individuals within those societies. The term was formerly used to refe ...
. They see the state as a partisan instrument that primarily serves the interests of the upper class.


Anarchist perspective

Anarchism is a political philosophy which considers the state and hierarchies to be unnecessary and harmful and instead promotes a stateless society, or anarchy, a self-managed, self-governed society based on voluntary, cooperative institutions. Anarchists believe that the state is inherently an instrument of domination and repression, no matter who is in control of it. Anarchists note that the state possesses the monopoly on violence, monopoly on the legal use of violence. Unlike Marxists, anarchists believe that revolutionary seizure of state power should not be a political goal. They believe instead that the state apparatus should be completely dismantled, and an alternative set of social relations created, which are not based on state power at all. Various Christian anarchism, Christian anarchists, such as Jacques Ellul, have identified the State and
political power In social science Social science is the Branches of science, branch of science devoted to the study of society, societies and the Social relation, relationships among individuals within those societies. The term was formerly used to refe ...
as the The Beast (Revelation), Beast in the Book of Revelation.


Anarcho-capitalist perspective

Anarcho-capitalism, Anarcho-capitalists such as Murray Rothbard come to some of the same conclusions about the state apparatus as anarchists, but for different reasons. The two principles that anarchists rely on most are consent and non-initiation. Consent in anarcho-capitalist theory requires that individuals explicitly assent to the jurisdiction of the State excluding Social contract#Tacit consent, Lockean tacit consent. Consent may also create a right of secession which destroys any concept of government monopoly on force. Coercive monopolies are excluded by the non-initiation of force principle because they must use force in order to prevent others from offering the same service that they do. Anarcho-capitalists start from the belief that replacing monopolistic states with competitive providers is necessary from a normative, justice-based scenario. Anarcho-capitalists believe that the market values of Competition (economics), competition and privatization can better provide the services provided by the state. Murray Rothbard argues in ''Power and Market'' that any and all government functions could better be fulfilled by private actors including: defense, infrastructure, and legal adjudication.


Marxist perspective

Karl Marx, Marx and Frederick Engels, Engels were clear in that the communist goal was a classless society in which the state would have "stateless communism, withered away", replaced only by "administration of things". Their views are found throughout their Marx/Engels Collected Works, Collected Works, and address past or then extant state forms from an analytical and tactical viewpoint, but not future social forms, speculation utopian socialism, about which is generally antithetical to groups considering themselves Marxist but who – not having conquered the existing state power(s) – are not in the situation of supplying the institutional form of an actual society. To the Marxism#Dispute that the Soviet Union was Marxist, extent that it makes sense, there is no single "Marxist theory of state", but rather several different purportedly "Marxist" theories have been developed by adherents of Marxism.Flint & Taylor, 2007: p. 139 Marx's early writings portrayed the bourgeois state as parasitic, base and superstructure, built upon the superstructure of the economy, and working against the public interest. He also wrote that the state mirrors social class, class relations in society in general, acting as a regulator and repressor of class struggle, and as a tool of political power and domination for the ruling class. The ''Communist Manifesto'' claims the state to be nothing more than "a committee for managing the common affairs of the ''bourgeoisie''.” For Marxist theorists, the role of the modern bourgeois state is determined by its function in the global capitalist order. Ralph Miliband argued that the ruling class uses the state as its instrument to dominate society by virtue of the interpersonal ties between state officials and economic elites. For Miliband, the state is dominated by an elite that comes from the same background as the capitalist class. State officials therefore share the same interests as owners of capital and are interlocking directorate, linked to them through a wide array of social, economic, and political ties. Gramsci, Antonio, Gramsci's theories of state emphasized that the state is only one of the institutions in society that helps maintain the
hegemony Hegemony (, , ) is the political, economic, and military predominance of one state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (new ...
of the ruling class, and that state power is bolstered by the false consciousness, ideological domination of the institutions of civil society, such as churches, schools, and mass media.


Pluralism

Pluralism (political theory), Pluralists view society as a collection of individuals and groups, who are competing for political power. They then view the state as a neutral body that simply enacts the will of whichever groups dominate the electoral process. Within the pluralist tradition, Robert Dahl developed the theory of the state as a neutral arena for contending interests or its agencies as simply another set of interest groups. With power competitively arranged in society, state policy is a product of recurrent bargaining. Although pluralism recognizes the existence of inequality, it asserts that all groups have an opportunity to pressure the state. The pluralist approach suggests that the modern democratic state's actions are the result of pressures applied by a variety of organized interests. Dahl called this kind of state a polyarchy. Pluralism has been challenged on the ground that it is not supported by empirical evidence. Citing surveys showing that the large majority of people in high leadership positions are members of the wealthy upper class, critics of pluralism claim that the state serves the interests of the upper class rather than equitably serving the interests of all social groups.


Contemporary critical perspectives

Jürgen Habermas Jürgen Habermas (, ; ; born 18 June 1929) is a German philosopher A philosopher is someone who practices philosophy Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fundamental questions, such as those about reason, Metaphysics, e ...
believed that the base-superstructure framework, used by many Marxist theorists to describe the relation between the state and the economy, was overly simplistic. He felt that the modern state plays a large role in structuring the economy, by regulating economic activity and being a large-scale economic consumer/producer, and through its redistributive welfare state activities. Because of the way these activities structure the economic framework, Habermas felt that the state cannot be looked at as passively responding to economic class interests. Michel Foucault believed that modern political theory was too state-centric, saying "Maybe, after all, the state is no more than a composite reality and a mythologized abstraction, whose importance is a lot more limited than many of us think." He thought that political theory was focusing too much on abstract institutions, and not enough on the actual practices of government. In Foucault's opinion, the state had no essence. He believed that instead of trying to understand the activities of governments by analyzing the properties of the state (a reified abstraction), political theorists should be examining changes in the practice of government to understand changes in the nature of the state. Foucault developed the concept of governmentality while considering the Genealogy (philosophy), genealogy of state, and considers the way in which an individuals understanding of governance can influence the function of the state. Foucault argues that it is technology that has created and made the state so elusive and successful, and that instead of looking at the state as something to be toppled we should look at the state as technological manifestation or system with many heads; Foucault argues instead of something to be overthrown as in the sense of the Marxist and Anarchism, Anarchist understanding of the state. Every single scientific technological advance has come to the service of the state Foucault argues and it is with the emergence of the Mathematical sciences and essentially the formation of Mathematical statistics that one gets an understanding of the complex technology of producing how the modern state was so successfully created. Foucault insists that the Nation state was not a historical accident but a deliberate production in which the modern state had to now manage coincidentally with the emerging practice of the Police (Cameralism, Cameral science) 'allowing' the population to now 'come in' into ''jus gentium'' and ''civitas'' (Civil society) after deliberately being excluded for several millennia. Democracy wasn't (the newly formed voting franchise) as is always painted by both political revolutionaries and political philosophers as a cry for political freedom or wanting to be accepted by the 'ruling elite', Foucault insists, but was a part of a skilled endeavour of switching over new technology such as; Translatio imperii, Plenitudo potestatis and Extra Ecclesiam nulla salus, ''extra'' ''Ecclesiam nulla salus'' readily available from the past Medieval period, into mass persuasion for the future industrial 'political' population(deception over the population) in which the political population was now asked to insist upon itself "the president must be elected". Where these political symbol agents, represented by the pope and the president are now democratised. Foucault calls these new forms of technology Biopower and form part of our political inheritance which he calls Biopolitics. Heavily influenced by Gramsci, Nicos Poulantzas, a Greek neo-Marxism, neo-Marxist theorist argued that capitalist states do not always act on behalf of the ruling class, and when they do, it is not necessarily the case because state officials consciously strive to do so, but because the 'structuralism, structural' position of the state is configured in such a way to ensure that the long-term interests of capital are always dominant. Poulantzas' main contribution to the Marxist literature on the state was the concept of 'relative autonomy' of the state. While Poulantzas' work on 'state autonomy' has served to sharpen and specify a great deal of Marxist literature on the state, his own framework came under criticism for its 'structural functionalism'.


Structural universe of the state or structural reality of the state

It can be considered as a single structural universe: the historical reality that takes shape in societies characterized by a codified or crystallized right, with a power organized hierarchically and justified by the law that gives it authority, with a well-defined social and economic stratification, with an economic and social organization that gives the society precise organic characteristics, with one (or multiple) religious organizations, in justification of the power expressed by such a society and in support of the religious beliefs of individuals and accepted by society as a whole. Such a structural universe, evolves in a cyclical manner, presenting two different historical phases (a mercantile phase, or “open society”, and a feudal phase or “closed society”), with characteristics so divergent that it can qualify as two different levels of civilization which, however, are never definitive, but that alternate cyclically, being able, each of the two different levels, to be considered progressive (in a partisan way, totally independent of the real value of well-being, degrees of freedom granted, equality realized and a concrete possibility to achieve further progress of the level of civilization), even by the most cultured fractions, educated and intellectually more equipped than the various societies, of both historical phases.


State autonomy within institutionalism

State autonomy theorists believe that the state is an entity that is impervious to external social and economic influence, and has interests of its own. "New institutionalist" writings on the state, such as the works of Theda Skocpol, suggest that state actors are to an important degree autonomous. In other words, state personnel have interests of their own, which they can and do pursue independently of (at times in conflict with) actors in society. Since the state controls the means of coercion, and given the dependence of many groups in civil society on the state for achieving any goals they may espouse, state personnel can to some extent impose their own preferences on civil society.


Theories of state legitimacy

States generally rely on a claim to some form of legitimacy (political), political legitimacy in order to maintain domination over their subjects.Vincent, 1992
p. 43


Social Contract Theory

Various social contract theories have been proffered to establish state legitimacy and to explain state formation. Common elements in these theories are a state of nature that incentivizes people to seek out the establishment of a state. Thomas Hobbes described the state of nature as "solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short" (Leviathan (Hobbes book), ''Leviathan'', Chapters XIII–XIV). Locke takes a more benign view of the state of nature and is unwilling to take as hard a stance on the degeneracy of the state of nature. He does agree that it is equally incapable of providing a high quality of life. Locke argues for inalienable human rights. One of the most significant rights for Locke was the right to property. He viewed it as a keystone right that was inadequately protected in the state of nature. Social contract theorists frequently argue for some level of Natural rights and legal rights, natural rights. In order to protect their ability to exercise these rights, they are willing to give up some other rights to the state to allow it to establish governance. Social contract theory then basis government legitimacy on the consent of the governed, but such legitimacy only extends as far as the governed have consented. This line of reasoning figures prominently in United States Declaration of Independence, The United States Declaration of Independence.


Divine right of kings

The rise of the modern day state system was closely related to changes in political thought, especially concerning the changing understanding of legitimate state power and control. Early modern defenders of absolutism (Absolute monarchy), such as Thomas Hobbes and Jean Bodin undermined the doctrine of the divine right of kings by arguing that the power of kings should be justified by reference to the people. Hobbes in particular went further to argue that political power should be justified with reference to the individual (Hobbes wrote in the time of the English Civil War), not just to the people understood collectively. Both Hobbes and Bodin thought they were defending the power of kings, not advocating for democracy, but their arguments about the nature of sovereignty were fiercely resisted by more traditional defenders of the power of kings, such as Sir Robert Filmer in England, who thought that such defenses ultimately opened the way to more democratic claims.


Rational-legal authority

Max Weber identified three main sources of political legitimacy in his works. The first, legitimacy based on traditional grounds is derived from a belief that things should be as they have been in the past, and that those who defend these traditions have a legitimate claim to power. The second, legitimacy based on charismatic leadership, is devotion to a leader or group that is viewed as exceptionally heroic or virtuous. The third is rational-legal authority, whereby legitimacy is derived from the belief that a certain group has been placed in power in a legal manner, and that their actions are justifiable according to a specific code of written laws. Weber believed that the modern state is characterized primarily by appeals to rational-legal authority.


State failure

Some states are often labeled as "weak" or "failed". In David Samuels (political scientist), David Samuels's words "...a failed state occurs when sovereignty over claimed territory has collapsed or was never effectively at all". Authors like David Samuels (political scientist), Samuels and Joel S. Migdal have explored the emergence of weak states, how they are different from Western "strong" states and its consequences to the economic development of developing countries. Early state formation To understand the formation of weak states, David Samuels (political scientist), Samuels compares the formation of European states in the 1600s with the conditions under which more recent states were formed in the twentieth century. In this line of argument, the state allows a population to resolve a collective action problem, in which citizens recognize the authority of the state and this exercise the power of coercion over them. This kind of social organization required a decline in legitimacy of traditional forms of ruling (like religious authorities) and replaced them with an increase in the legitimacy of depersonalized rule; an increase in the central government's sovereignty; and an increase in the organizational complexity of the central government (
bureaucracy The term bureaucracy () may refer both to a body of non-elected governing officials (bureaucrats A bureaucrat is a member of a bureaucracy and can compose the administration of any organization of any size, although the term usually connotes ...

bureaucracy
). The transition to this modern state was possible in Europe around 1600 thanks to the confluence of factors like the technological developments in warfare, which generated strong incentives to tax and consolidate central structures of governance to respond to external threats. This was complemented by the increase of the production of food (as a result of productivity improvements), which allowed to sustain a larger population and so increased the complexity and centralization of states. Finally, cultural changes challenged the authority of monarchies and paved the way to the emergence of modern states. Late state formation The conditions that enabled the emergence of modern states in Europe were different for other countries that started this process later. As a result, many of these states lack effective capabilities to tax and extract revenue from their citizens, which derives in problems like corruption, tax evasion and low economic growth. Unlike the European case, late state formation occurred in a context of limited international conflict that diminished the incentives to tax and increase military spending. Also, many of these states emerged from colonization in a state of poverty and with institutions designed to extract natural resources, which have made more difficult to form states. European colonization also defined many arbitrary borders that mixed different cultural groups under the same national identities, which has made difficult to build states with legitimacy among all the population, since some states have to compete for it with other forms of political identity. As a complement of this argument, Joel S. Migdal, Migdal gives a historical account on how sudden social changes in the Third World during the Industrial Revolution contributed to the formation of weak states. The expansion of international trade that started around 1850, brought profound changes in Africa, Asia and Latin America that were introduced with the objective of assure the availability of raw materials for the European market. These changes consisted in: i) reforms to landownership laws with the objective of integrate more lands to the international economy, ii) increase in the taxation of peasants and little landowners, as well as collecting of these taxes in cash instead of in kind as was usual up to that moment and iii) the introduction of new and less costly modes of transportation, mainly railroads. As a result, the traditional forms of social control became obsolete, deteriorating the existing institutions and opening the way to the creation of new ones, that not necessarily lead these countries to build strong states. This fragmentation of the social order induced a political logic in which these states were captured to some extent by "strongmen", who were capable to take advantage of the above-mentioned changes and that challenge the sovereignty of the state. As a result, these decentralization of social control impedes to consolidate strong states.


See also

* Civilian control of the military * Colony * International relations * Puppet state * Rule of law * Statism * Warlordism


References


Notes


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External links

{{Authority control Political geography Political science terminology Types of administrative division