State (polity)

State (polity)

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A state is an organized political community, living under a government
Government
Government refers to the legislators, administrators, and arbitrators in the administrative bureaucracy who control a state at a given time, and to the system of government by which they are organized...

. States may be sovereign
Sovereign
A sovereign is the supreme lawmaking authority within its jurisdiction.Sovereign may also refer to:*Monarch, the sovereign of a monarchy*Sovereign Bank, banking institution in the United States*Sovereign...

 and may enjoy a monopoly on the legal initiation of force and are not dependent on, or subject to any other power or state. Many states are federated states which participate in a federal union
Federal union
In politics, a federal union is any organization of states or other entities that unite under a federalist system. Usually a federal union will action jointly in matters of defense and foreign relations, with individual states having independence in local matters. Examples of federal unions include...

. Some states are subject to external sovereignty or hegemony where ultimate sovereignty lies in another state.

The state can also be used to refer to the secular branches of government within a state, often as a manner of contrasting them with churches and civilian institutions (civil society).

Etymology


The word state and its cognates in other European languages (stato in Italian, état in French, Staat in German) ultimately derive from the Latin status, meaning "condition" or "status."

With the revival of the Roman law
Roman law
Roman law is the legal system of ancient Rome, and the legal developments which occurred before the 7th century AD — when the Roman–Byzantine state adopted Greek as the language of government. The development of Roman law comprises more than a thousand years of jurisprudence — from the Twelve...

 in the 14th century in Europe, this Latin term was used to refer to the legal standing of persons (such as the various "estates of the realm
Estates of the realm
The Estates of the realm were the broad social orders of the hierarchically conceived society, recognized in the Middle Ages and Early Modern period in Christian Europe; they are sometimes distinguished as the three estates: the clergy, the nobility, and commoners, and are often referred to by...

" - noble, common, and clerical), and in particular the special status of the king. The word was also associated with Roman ideas (dating back to Cicero
Cicero
Marcus Tullius Cicero , was a Roman philosopher, statesman, lawyer, political theorist, and Roman constitutionalist. He came from a wealthy municipal family of the equestrian order, and is widely considered one of Rome's greatest orators and prose stylists.He introduced the Romans to the chief...

) about the "status rei publicae
Res publica
Res publica is a Latin phrase, loosely meaning "public affair". It is the root of the word republic, and the word commonwealth has traditionally been used as a synonym for it; however translations vary widely according to the context...

", 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.

In English, "state" is a contraction of the word "estate", which is similar to the old French
Old French
Old French was the Romance dialect continuum spoken in territories that span roughly the northern half of modern France and parts of modern Belgium and Switzerland from the 9th century to the 14th century...

 estat and the modern French
French language
French is a Romance language spoken as a first language in France, the Romandy region in Switzerland, Wallonia and Brussels in Belgium, Monaco, the regions of Quebec and Acadia in Canada, and by various communities elsewhere. Second-language speakers of French are distributed throughout many parts...

 état, both of which signify that a person has status and therefore estate. The highest estates, generally those with the most wealth and social rank, were those that held power.

The early 16th century works of Machiavelli (especially The Prince
The Prince
The Prince is a political treatise by the Italian diplomat, historian and political theorist Niccolò Machiavelli. From correspondence a version appears to have been distributed in 1513, using a Latin title, De Principatibus . But the printed version was not published until 1532, five years after...

) played a central role in popularizing the use of the word "state" in something similar to its modern sense.

Definitions


a state is a community of persons more or less numerous, permanently occupying a definite portion of territory, having a government of their own to which the great body of inhabitants render habitual obedience, and enjoying freedom from external control.
There is no academic consensus on the most appropriate definition of the state. The term "state" refers to a set of different, but interrelated and often overlapping, theories about a certain range of political phenomena. The act of defining the term can be seen as part of an ideological conflict, because different definitions lead to different theories of state function, and as a result validate different political strategies.

According to the Oxford English Dictionary
Oxford English Dictionary
The Oxford English Dictionary , published by the Oxford University Press, is the self-styled premier dictionary of the English language. Two fully bound print editions of the OED have been published under its current name, in 1928 and 1989. The first edition was published in twelve volumes , and...

, a state is "a an organized political community under one government
Government
Government refers to the legislators, administrators, and arbitrators in the administrative bureaucracy who control a state at a given time, and to the system of government by which they are organized...

; a commonwealth
Commonwealth
Commonwealth is a traditional English term for a political community founded for the common good. Historically, it has sometimes been synonymous with "republic."More recently it has been used for fraternal associations of some sovereign nations...

; a nation
Nation
A nation may refer to a community of people who share a common language, culture, ethnicity, descent, and/or history. In this definition, a nation has no physical borders. However, it can also refer to people who share a common territory and government irrespective of their ethnic make-up...

. b such a community forming part of a federal republic
Federal republic
A federal republic is a federation of states with a republican form of government. A federation is the central government. The states in a federation also maintain the federation...

, esp the United States of America". Max Weber's commonly used definition describes the state as a compulsory political organization with a centralized government
Government
Government refers to the legislators, administrators, and arbitrators in the administrative bureaucracy who control a state at a given time, and to the system of government by which they are organized...

 that maintains a monopoly of the legitimate use of force within a certain territory. General categories of state institutions include administrative bureaucracies, legal systems, and military
Military
A military is an organization authorized by its greater society to use lethal force, usually including use of weapons, in defending its country by combating actual or perceived threats. The military may have additional functions of use to its greater society, such as advancing a political agenda e.g...

 or religious organizations.

Types of states


States may be classified as sovereign
Sovereign state
A sovereign state, or simply, state, is a state with a defined territory on which it exercises internal and external sovereignty, a permanent population, a government, and the capacity to enter into relations with other sovereign states. It is also normally understood to be a state which is neither...

if they enjoy a monopoly of the legitimate use of force and are not dependent on, or subject to any other power or state. Other states are subject to external sovereignty
Sovereignty
Sovereignty is the quality of having supreme, independent authority over a geographic area, such as a territory. It can be found in a power to rule and make law that rests on a political fact for which no purely legal explanation can be provided...

 or hegemony
Hegemony
Hegemony is an indirect form of imperial dominance in which the hegemon rules sub-ordinate states by the implied means of power rather than direct military force. In Ancient Greece , hegemony denoted the politico–military dominance of a city-state over other city-states...

 where ultimate sovereignty lies in another state. Many states are federated states which participate in a federal union
Federal union
In politics, a federal union is any organization of states or other entities that unite under a federalist system. Usually a federal union will action jointly in matters of defense and foreign relations, with individual states having independence in local matters. Examples of federal unions include...

. A federated state is a territorial and constitution
Constitution
A constitution is a set of fundamental principles or established precedents according to which a state or other organization is governed. These rules together make up, i.e. constitute, what the entity is...

al community forming part of a federation
Federation
A federation , also known as a federal state, is a type of sovereign state characterized by a union of partially self-governing states or regions united by a central government...

. Such states differ from sovereign states, in that they have transferred a portion of their sovereign powers to a federal government
Federal government
The federal government is the common government of a federation. The structure of federal governments varies from institution to institution. Based on a broad definition of a basic federal political system, there are two or more levels of government that exist within an established territory and...

.

The state and government


The concept of the state can be distinguished from the concept of government
Government
Government refers to the legislators, administrators, and arbitrators in the administrative bureaucracy who control a state at a given time, and to the system of government by which they are organized...

. The government is the particular group of people, the administrative bureaucracy
Bureaucracy
A bureaucracy is an organization of non-elected officials of a governmental or organization who implement the rules, laws, and functions of their institution, and are occasionally characterized by officialism and red tape.-Weberian bureaucracy:...

, that controls the state apparatus at a given time. That is, governments are the means through which state power is employed. States are served by a continuous succession of different governments.

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. Their function is to enforce existing laws, legislate new ones, and arbitrate conflicts via their monopoly on violence. In some societies, this group is often a self-perpetuating or hereditary class. In other societies, such as democracies, the political roles remain, but there is frequent turnover of the people actually filling the positions.

States and nation-states


States can also be distinguished from the concept of a "nation
Nation
A nation may refer to a community of people who share a common language, culture, ethnicity, descent, and/or history. In this definition, a nation has no physical borders. However, it can also refer to people who share a common territory and government irrespective of their ethnic make-up...

", which refers to a large geographical area, and the people therein who perceive themselves as having a common identity.

The state and civil society


The state is sometimes contrasted with civil society
Civil society
Civil society is composed of the totality of many voluntary social relationships, civic and social organizations, and institutions that form the basis of a functioning society, as distinct from the force-backed structures of a state , the commercial institutions of the market, and private criminal...

.

Antonio Gramsci
Antonio Gramsci
Antonio Gramsci was an Italian writer, politician, political philosopher, and linguist. He was a founding member and onetime leader of the Communist Party of Italy and was imprisoned by Benito Mussolini's Fascist regime...

 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
Hegemony is an indirect form of imperial dominance in which the hegemon rules sub-ordinate states by the implied means of power rather than direct military force. In Ancient Greece , hegemony denoted the politico–military dominance of a city-state over other city-states...

 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 Althusser
Louis Pierre Althusser was a French Marxist philosopher. He was born in Algeria and studied at the École Normale Supérieure in Paris, where he eventually became Professor of Philosophy....

 argued that civil organizations such as church
Christian Church
The Christian Church is the assembly or association of followers of Jesus Christ. The Greek term ἐκκλησία that in its appearances in the New Testament is usually translated as "church" basically means "assembly"...

, school
School
A school is an institution designed for the teaching of students under the direction of teachers. Most countries have systems of formal education, which is commonly compulsory. In these systems, students progress through a series of schools...

s, and the family
Family
In human context, a family is a group of people affiliated by consanguinity, affinity, or co-residence. In most societies it is the principal institution for the socialization of children...

 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
Jürgen Habermas is a German sociologist and philosopher in the tradition of critical theory and pragmatism. He is perhaps best known for his theory on the concepts of 'communicative rationality' and the 'public sphere'...

, spoke of a public sphere
Public sphere
The public sphere 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...

 that was distinct from both the economic and political sphere.

Given the role that many social groups have in 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
Privatization is the incidence or process of transferring ownership of a business, enterprise, agency or public service from the public sector to the private sector or to private non-profit organizations...

, nationalization
Nationalization
Nationalisation, also spelled nationalization, is the process of taking an industry or assets into government ownership by a national government or state. Nationalization usually refers to private assets, but may also mean assets owned by lower levels of government, such as municipalities, being...

, and the creation of new regulatory
Regulation
Regulation is administrative legislation that constitutes or constrains rights and allocates responsibilities. It can be distinguished from primary legislation on the one hand and judge-made law on the other...

 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.

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
Capitalism
Capitalism is an economic system that became dominant in the Western world following the demise of feudalism. There is no consensus on the precise definition nor on how the term should be used as a historical category...

 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 theories on the other hand, see politics as intimately tied in with economic relations, and emphasize the relation between economic power and political power. They see the state as a partisan instrument that primarily serves the interests of the upper class.

Anarchist


Anarchism
Anarchism
Anarchism is generally defined as the political philosophy which holds the state to be undesirable, unnecessary, and harmful, or alternatively as opposing authority in the conduct of human relations...

 is a political philosophy
Political philosophy
Political philosophy is the study of such topics as liberty, justice, property, rights, law, and the enforcement of a legal code by authority: what they are, why they are needed, what, if anything, makes a government legitimate, what rights and freedoms it should protect and why, what form it...

 which considers the state immoral
Morality
Morality is the differentiation among intentions, decisions, and actions between those that are good and bad . A moral code is a system of morality and a moral is any one practice or teaching within a moral code...

 and instead promotes a stateless society
Stateless society
A stateless society is a society that is not governed by a state. In stateless societies, there is little concentration of authority; most positions of authority that do exist are very limited in power and are generally not permanently held positions; and social bodies that resolve disputes through...

, or anarchy
Anarchy
Anarchy , has more than one colloquial definition. In the United States, the term "anarchy" typically is meant to refer to a society which lacks publicly recognized government or violently enforced political authority...

.

Anarchists believe that the state is inherently an instrument of domination and repression, no matter who is in control of it. Unlike Marxists, anachists 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.

Marxist Perspective


Marx
Karl Marx
Karl Heinrich Marx was a German philosopher, economist, sociologist, historian, journalist, and revolutionary socialist. His ideas played a significant role in the development of social science and the socialist political movement...

 and Engels were clear in that the communist goal was a classless society
Classless society
Classless society refers to a society in which no one is born into a social class. Such distinctions of wealth, income, education, culture, or social network might arise and would only be determined by individual experience and achievement in such a society.Since these distinctions are difficult to...

 in which the state would have "withered away
Stateless communism
Stateless communism, also known as pure communism, is the post-capitalist stage of society which Karl Marx predicted would inevitably result from the development of the productive forces...

". Their views are scattered throughout the Marx/Engels Collected Works
Marx/Engels Collected Works
Marx/Engels Collected Works is the largest collection of translations into English of the works of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels. It contains all works published by Marx and Engels in their lifetimes and numerous unpublished manuscripts and letters. The Collected Works, which was translated by...

 and address past or the then extant state forms from an analytical or tactical viewpoint, not future social forms, speculation about which
Utopian socialism
Utopian socialism is a term used to define the first currents of modern socialist thought as exemplified by the work of Saint-Simon, Charles Fourier, and Robert Owen which inspired Karl Marx and other early socialists and were looked on favorably...

 is generally anathema 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 extent that it makes sense, there is no single "Marxist theory of state", but rather many different "Marxist" theories that have been developed by adherents of Marxism.

Marx's early writings portrayed the state as "parasitic", built upon the superstructure
Base and superstructure
In Marxist theory, human society consists of two parts: the base and superstructure; the base comprehends the forces and relations of production — employer-employee work conditions, the technical division of labour, and property relations — into which people enter to produce the necessities and...

 of the economy
Economy
An economy consists of the economic system of a country or other area; the labor, capital and land resources; and the manufacturing, trade, distribution, and consumption of goods and services of that area...

, and working against the public interest. He also wrote that the state mirrors class
Social class
Social classes are economic or cultural arrangements of groups in society. Class is an essential object of analysis for sociologists, political scientists, economists, anthropologists and social historians. In the social sciences, social class is often discussed in terms of 'social stratification'...

 relations in society in general, acts as a regulator and repressor of class struggle, and acts as a tool of political power and domination for the ruling class. The Communist Manifesto claimed that the state is nothing more than "a committee for managing the common affairs of the bourgeoisie
Bourgeoisie
In sociology and political science, bourgeoisie describes a range of groups across history. In the Western world, between the late 18th century and the present day, the bourgeoisie is a social class "characterized by their ownership of capital and their related culture." A member of the...

.

For Marxist theorists, the role of the non-socialist state is determined by its function in the global capitalist order. Ralph Miliband
Ralph Miliband
Ralph Miliband , born Adolphe Miliband, was a Belgian-born British sociologist known as a prominent Marxist thinker...

 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 linked to them
Interlocking directorate
Interlocking directorate refers to the practice of members of a corporate board of directors serving on the boards of multiple corporations. A person that sits on multiple boards is known as a multiple director. A direct interlock occurs when two firms share a director or when an executive of one...

 through a wide array of social, economic, and political ties.

Gramsci's theories of state emphasized that the state is only one of the institutions in society that helps maintain the hegemony
Hegemony
Hegemony is an indirect form of imperial dominance in which the hegemon rules sub-ordinate states by the implied means of power rather than direct military force. In Ancient Greece , hegemony denoted the politico–military dominance of a city-state over other city-states...

 of the ruling class, and that state power is bolstered by the ideological domination of the institutions of civil society, such as churches, schools, and mass media.

Pluralism


Pluralists
Pluralism (political theory)
Classical pluralism is the view that politics and decision making are located mostly in the framework of government, but that many non-governmental groups use their resources to exert influence. The central question for classical pluralism is how power and influence is distributed in a political...

 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
Polyarchy
In modern political science, the term polyarchy was introduced by Robert A. Dahl, now emeritus professor at Yale University, to describe a form of government in which power is vested in three or more persons. This form of government was first implemented in the United States and was gradually...

.

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.

Postmodernists


Jürgen Habermas
Jürgen Habermas
Jürgen Habermas is a German sociologist and philosopher in the tradition of critical theory and pragmatism. He is perhaps best known for his theory on the concepts of 'communicative rationality' and the 'public sphere'...

 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
Welfare state
A welfare state is a "concept of government in which the state plays a key role in the protection and promotion of the economic and social well-being of its citizens. It is based on the principles of equality of opportunity, equitable distribution of wealth, and public responsibility for those...

 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
Michel Foucault
Michel Foucault , born Paul-Michel Foucault , was a French philosopher, social theorist and historian of ideas...

 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.

Heavily influenced by Gramsci, Nicos Poulantzas
Nicos Poulantzas
Nicos Poulantzas was a Greek Marxist political sociologist. In the 1970s, Poulantzas was known, along with Louis Althusser, as a leading Structural Marxist and, while at first a Leninist, eventually became a proponent of eurocommunism. He is most well known for his theoretical work on the state...

, a Greek neo-Marxist
Neo-Marxism
Neo-Marxism is a loose term for various twentieth-century approaches that amend or extend Marxism and Marxist theory, usually by incorporating elements from other intellectual traditions, such as: critical theory, psychoanalysis or Existentialism .Erik Olin Wright's theory of contradictory class...

 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 'structural
Structuralism
Structuralism originated in the structural linguistics of Ferdinand de Saussure and the subsequent Prague and Moscow schools of linguistics. Just as structural linguistics was facing serious challenges from the likes of Noam Chomsky and thus fading in importance in linguistics, structuralism...

' 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 functionalism
Structural functionalism is a broad perspective in sociology and anthropology which sets out to interpret society as a structure with interrelated parts. Functionalism addresses society as a whole in terms of the function of its constituent elements; namely norms, customs, traditions and institutions...

.'

State autonomy / Institutionalism


State autonomy theorists believe that the state is an entity that is somehow 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
Theda Skocpol
Theda Skocpol is an American sociologist and political scientist at Harvard University. She served from 2005 to 2007 as Dean of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. She is influential in sociology as an advocate of the historical-institutional and comparative approaches, and well-known in...

, 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 (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.

G. William Domhoff
G. William Domhoff
George William Domhoff is a research professor in psychology and sociology at the University of California, Santa Cruz...

 claims that "The idea of the American state having any significant degree of autonomy from the owners and managers of bank
Bank
A bank is a financial institution that serves as a financial intermediary. The term "bank" may refer to one of several related types of entities:...

s, corporations, and agribusinesses is a theoretical mistake based in empirical
Empirical
The word empirical denotes information gained by means of observation or experimentation. Empirical data are data produced by an experiment or observation....

 inaccuracies.", citing empirical studies showing a high degree of overlap
Interlocking directorate
Interlocking directorate refers to the practice of members of a corporate board of directors serving on the boards of multiple corporations. A person that sits on multiple boards is known as a multiple director. A direct interlock occurs when two firms share a director or when an executive of one...

 between upper-level corporate management and high-level positions in government.

Theories of state legitimacy


States generally rely on a claim to some form of political legitimacy in order to maintain domination over their subjects.

Divine right



The rise of the modern state system was closely related to changes in political thought, especially concerning the changing understanding of legitimate state power. Early modern defenders of absolutism such as Thomas Hobbes
Thomas Hobbes
Thomas Hobbes of Malmesbury , in some older texts Thomas Hobbs of Malmsbury, was an English philosopher, best known today for his work on political philosophy...

 and Jean Bodin
Jean Bodin
Jean Bodin was a French jurist and political philosopher, member of the Parlement of Paris and professor of law in Toulouse. He is best known for his theory of sovereignty; he was also an influential writer on demonology....

 undermined the doctrine of the divine right of kings
Divine Right of Kings
The divine right of kings or divine-right theory of kingship is a political and religious doctrine of royal and political legitimacy. It asserts that a monarch is subject to no earthly authority, deriving his right to rule directly from the will of God...

 by arguing that the power of kings should be justified by reference to the people. Hobbes in particular went further and argued that political power should be justified with reference to the individual, not just to the people understood collectively. Both Hobbes and Bodin thought they were defending the power of kings, not advocating democracy, but their arguments about the nature of sovereignty were fiercely resisted by more traditional defenders of the power of kings, like 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
Rational-legal authority
Rational-legal authority is a form of leadership in which the authority of an organization or a ruling regime is largely tied to legal rationality, legal legitimacy and bureaucracy...

, 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.

The historical development of the state


The earliest forms of the state emerged whenever it became possible to centralize power in a durable way. Agriculture
Agriculture
Agriculture is the cultivation of animals, plants, fungi and other life forms for food, fiber, and other products used to sustain life. Agriculture was the key implement in the rise of sedentary human civilization, whereby farming of domesticated species created food surpluses that nurtured the...

 and writing
Writing
Writing is the representation of language in a textual medium through the use of a set of signs or symbols . It is distinguished from illustration, such as cave drawing and painting, and non-symbolic preservation of language via non-textual media, such as magnetic tape audio.Writing most likely...

 are almost everywhere associated with this process: agriculture because it allowed for the emergence of a class of people who did not have to spend most of their time providing for their own subsistence, and writing (or the equivalent of writing, like Inca quipu
Quipu
Quipus or khipus were recording devices used in the Inca Empire and its predecessor societies in the Andean region. A quipu usually consisted of colored, spun, and plied thread or strings from llama or alpaca hair. It could also be made of cotton cords...

s) because it made possible the centralization of vital information.

Pre-historic stateless societies



For most of human history, people have lived in stateless societies, characterized by a lack of concentrated authority, and the absence of large inequalities
Social inequality
Social inequality refers to a situation in which individual groups in a society do not have equal social status. Areas of potential social inequality include voting rights, freedom of speech and assembly, the extent of property rights and access to education, health care, quality housing and other...

 in economic and political power
Political power
Political power is a type of power held by a group in a society which allows administration of some or all of public resources, including labour, and wealth. There are many ways to obtain possession of such power. At the nation-state level political legitimacy for political power is held by the...

.

The anthropologist Robert L. Carneiro
Robert L. Carneiro
Robert Leonard Carneiro is a prominent American anthropologist and curator of the American Museum of Natural History. Carneiro earned a Ph.D. from the University of Michigan in 1957....

 comments:
"For 99.8 percent of human history people lived exclusively in autonomous bands and villages. At the beginning of the Paleolithic
Paleolithic
The Paleolithic Age, Era or Period, is a prehistoric period of human history distinguished by the development of the most primitive stone tools discovered , and covers roughly 99% of human technological prehistory...

 [i.e. the stone age
Stone Age
The Stone Age is a broad prehistoric period, lasting about 2.5 million years , during which humans and their predecessor species in the genus Homo, as well as the earlier partly contemporary genera Australopithecus and Paranthropus, widely used exclusively stone as their hard material in the...

], the number of these autonomous political units must have been small, but by 1000 B.C. it had increased to some 600,000. Then supra-village aggregation began in earnest, and in barely three millenia
Millennium
A millennium is a period of time equal to one thousand years —from the Latin phrase , thousand, and , year—often but not necessarily related numerically to a particular dating system....

 the autonomous political units of the world dropped from 600,000 to 157. In the light of this trend, the continued decrease from 157 to 1 seems not only inescapable but close at hand".


The anthropologist Tim Ingold
Tim Ingold
Tim Ingold is a British social anthropologist, currently Chair of Social Anthropology at the University of Aberdeen. He was educated at Leighton Park School and Cambridge University...

 writes:
"It is not enough to observe, in a now rather dated anthropological idiom, that hunter gatherers live in 'stateless societies', as though their social lives were somehow lacking or unfinished, waiting to be completed by the evolutionary development of a state apparatus. Rather, the principal of their socialty, as Pierre Clastres
Pierre Clastres
Pierre Clastres, , was a French anthropologist and ethnographer. He is best known for his fieldwork among the Guayaki in Paraguay and his theory on stateless societies.-Theories:...

 has put it, is fundamentally against the state."

The Neolithic period


During the Neolithic
Neolithic
The Neolithic Age, Era, or Period, or New Stone Age, was a period in the development of human technology, beginning about 9500 BC in some parts of the Middle East, and later in other parts of the world. It is traditionally considered as the last part of the Stone Age...

 period, human societies underwent major cultural and economic changes, including the development of agriculture
Agriculture
Agriculture is the cultivation of animals, plants, fungi and other life forms for food, fiber, and other products used to sustain life. Agriculture was the key implement in the rise of sedentary human civilization, whereby farming of domesticated species created food surpluses that nurtured the...

, 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, patriarchal societies, domestication
Domestication
Domestication or taming is the process whereby a population of animals or plants, through a process of selection, becomes accustomed to human provision and control. In the Convention on Biological Diversity a domesticated species is defined as a 'species in which the evolutionary process has been...

 of plants and animals, larger family sizes, and provided the basis for the centralized state form. Agriculture also enabled the production of a large surplus of food, which created a more complex division of labor by enabling people to specialize in tasks other than food production. Early states were characterized by highly stratified
Social stratification
In sociology the social stratification is a concept of class, involving the "classification of persons into groups based on shared socio-economic conditions ... a relational set of inequalities with economic, social, political and ideological dimensions."...

 societies, with a privileged and wealthy ruling class that was subordinate to monarch
Monarch
A monarch is the person who heads a monarchy. This is a form of government in which a state or polity is ruled or controlled by an individual who typically inherits the throne by birth and occasionally rules for life or until abdication...

. 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 doesn't support this thesis, pointing to evidence of several non-stratified and politically decentralized complex societies.

The state in ancient history


Mesopotamia
Mesopotamia
Mesopotamia is a toponym for the area of the Tigris–Euphrates river system, largely corresponding to modern-day Iraq, northeastern Syria, southeastern Turkey and southwestern Iran.Widely considered to be the cradle of civilization, Bronze Age Mesopotamia included Sumer and the...

 is generally considered to be the location of the earliest civilization
Civilization
Civilization is a sometimes controversial term that has been used in several related ways. Primarily, the term has been used to refer to the material and instrumental side of human cultures that are complex in terms of technology, science, and division of labor. Such civilizations are generally...

 or complex society
Complex society
In anthropology and archaeology, a complex society is a social formation that is otherwise described as a formative or developed state. The main criteria of complexity are:...

, meaning that it contained cities, full-time division of labor, social concentration of wealth into capital
Capital (economics)
In economics, capital, capital goods, or real capital refers to already-produced durable goods used in production of goods or services. The capital goods are not significantly consumed, though they may depreciate in the production process...

, unequal distribution of wealth, ruling classes, community ties based on residency rather than kinship
Kinship
Kinship is a relationship between any entities that share a genealogical origin, through either biological, cultural, or historical descent. And descent groups, lineages, etc. are treated in their own subsections....

, long distance trade
Trade
Trade is the transfer of ownership of goods and services from one person or entity to another. Trade is sometimes loosely called commerce or financial transaction or barter. A network that allows trade is called a market. The original form of trade was barter, the direct exchange of goods and...

, monument
Monument
A monument is a type of structure either explicitly created to commemorate a person or important event or which has become important to a social group as a part of their remembrance of historic times or cultural heritage, or simply as an example of historic architecture...

al architecture
Architecture
Architecture is both the process and product of planning, designing and construction. Architectural works, in the material form of buildings, are often perceived as cultural and political symbols and as works of art...

, standardized forms of art
Art
Art is the product or process of deliberately arranging items in a way that influences and affects one or more of the senses, emotions, and intellect....

 and culture, writing, and mathematics
Mathematics
Mathematics is the study of quantity, space, structure, and change. Mathematicians seek out patterns and formulate new conjectures. Mathematicians resolve the truth or falsity of conjectures by mathematical proofs, which are arguments sufficient to convince other mathematicians of their validity...

 and science
Science
Science is a systematic enterprise that builds and organizes knowledge in the form of testable explanations and predictions about the universe...

. It was the world's first literate civilization, and formed the first sets of written laws. By the middle of the 4th millennium B.C., most Mesopotamian settlements were fortified, signifying that organized warfare was common.

The state in classical antiquity


Although primitive 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
Classical antiquity is a broad term for a long period of cultural history centered on the Mediterranean Sea, comprising the interlocking civilizations of ancient Greece and ancient Rome, collectively known as the Greco-Roman world...

 came from the Greek city-states
Ancient Greece
Ancient Greece is a civilization belonging to a period of Greek history that lasted from the Archaic period of the 8th to 6th centuries BC to the end of antiquity. Immediately following this period was the beginning of the Early Middle Ages and the Byzantine era. Included in Ancient Greece is the...

 and the Roman Republic
Ancient Rome
Ancient Rome was a thriving civilization that grew on the Italian Peninsula as early as the 8th century BC. Located along the Mediterranean Sea and centered on the city of Rome, it expanded to one of the largest empires in the ancient world....

. The Greek city-states before the 4th century granted citizenship rights to their free population, and in Athens
Athens
Athens , is the capital and largest city of Greece. Athens dominates the Attica region and is one of the world's oldest cities, as its recorded history spans around 3,400 years. Classical Athens was a powerful city-state...

 these rights were combined
Athenian democracy
Athenian democracy developed in the Greek city-state of Athens, comprising the central city-state of Athens and the surrounding territory of Attica, around 508 BC. Athens is one of the first known democracies. Other Greek cities set up democracies, and even though most followed an Athenian model,...

 with a directly democratic
Direct democracy
Direct democracy is a form of government in which people vote on policy initiatives directly, as opposed to a representative democracy in which people vote for representatives who then vote on policy initiatives. Direct democracy is classically termed "pure democracy"...

 form of government that was to have a long afterlife in political thought and history.

The feudal state



During Medieval times in Europe, the state was organized on the principle of feudalism
Feudalism
Feudalism was a set of legal and military customs in medieval Europe that flourished between the 9th and 15th centuries, which, broadly defined, was a system for ordering society around relationships derived from the holding of land in exchange for service or labour.Although derived from the...

, and the relationship between lord
Lord
Lord is a title with various meanings. It can denote a prince or a feudal superior . The title today is mostly used in connection with the peerage of the United Kingdom or its predecessor countries, although some users of the title do not themselves hold peerages, and use it 'by courtesy'...

 and vassal
Vassal
A vassal or feudatory is a person who has entered into a mutual obligation to a lord or monarch in the context of the feudal system in medieval Europe. The obligations often included military support and mutual protection, in exchange for certain privileges, usually including the grant of land held...

 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
Estates of the realm
The Estates of the realm were the broad social orders of the hierarchically conceived society, recognized in the Middle Ages and Early Modern period in Christian Europe; they are sometimes distinguished as the three estates: the clergy, the nobility, and commoners, and are often referred to by...

 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.

The 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
Nation
A nation may refer to a community of people who share a common language, culture, ethnicity, descent, and/or history. In this definition, a nation has no physical borders. However, it can also refer to people who share a common territory and government irrespective of their ethnic make-up...

al basis. The concept of a national state, however, is not synonymous with nation state. Even in the most ethnically homogeneous societies there is not always a complete correspondence between state and nation
Nation
A nation may refer to a community of people who share a common language, culture, ethnicity, descent, and/or history. In this definition, a nation has no physical borders. However, it can also refer to people who share a common territory and government irrespective of their ethnic make-up...

, hence the active role often taken by the state to promote nationalism
Nationalism
Nationalism is a political ideology that involves a strong identification of a group of individuals with a political entity defined in national terms, i.e. a nation. In the 'modernist' image of the nation, it is nationalism that creates national identity. There are various definitions for what...

 through emphasis on shared symbols and national identity.

See also

  • Civil society
    Civil society
    Civil society is composed of the totality of many voluntary social relationships, civic and social organizations, and institutions that form the basis of a functioning society, as distinct from the force-backed structures of a state , the commercial institutions of the market, and private criminal...

  • Civilian control of the military
    Civilian control of the military
    Civilian control of the military is a doctrine in military and political science that places ultimate responsibility for a country's strategic decision-making in the hands of the civilian political leadership, rather than professional military officers. One author, paraphrasing Samuel P...

  • International relations
    International relations
    International relations is the study of relationships between countries, including the roles of states, inter-governmental organizations , international nongovernmental organizations , non-governmental organizations and multinational corporations...

  • Libertarianism
    Libertarianism
    Libertarianism, in the strictest sense, is the political philosophy that holds individual liberty as the basic moral principle of society. In the broadest sense, it is any political philosophy which approximates this view...

  • Political power
    Political power
    Political power is a type of power held by a group in a society which allows administration of some or all of public resources, including labour, and wealth. There are many ways to obtain possession of such power. At the nation-state level political legitimacy for political power is held by the...

  • Rule of law
    Rule of law
    The rule of law, sometimes called supremacy of law, is a legal maxim that says that governmental decisions should be made by applying known principles or laws with minimal discretion in their application...

  • Statism
    Statism
    Statism is a term usually describing a political philosophy, whether of the right or the left, that emphasises the role of the state in politics or supports the use of the state to achieve economic, military or social goals...