The state is seen as a set of organisations and practices that aims to prevent social chaos and make social order within a defined territory. It refers to the shared ideas and expectations regarding the ordering of social life and establishes who might legitimately claim to exercise authority over many aspects of society from churches to parents. Some people see the state as ‘the government’, whereas others may see it as different institutions such as their school or hospital. However, the state is less solid and more complex than this. In order for the state to govern its territory it needs to have legitimate authority, which means it needs the consent of those being governed. The government demands the right to represent or rule some areas of society’s lives and in many cases; social scientists are able to see the difference between what the government is and what state is. In order to examine and assess the view that the legitimacy of state is always contested, this essay will be drawing on evidence from different social scientists and researchers in order to argue both sides of this claim.
Authority is an important resource for the state and any other organisation seeking to govern peoples conduct as it enables organisations and social actors that form parts of the state to direct aspects of social life. It also enables organisations to intervene to direct particular people or improve particular conditions. The relationship between the state and its territory is not pre-given but rather is a product of constant claims and the authority of the state has to be created and sustained.
The German sociologist Max Weber defined the state in a lecture given in 1918 as ‘A human community that (successfully) claims the monopoly of the legitimate use of physical force within a given territory’. (Blakely & Saward, 2009, Page 361) This implies, the state being the government and has control over a certain country or area. Therefore, in this definition, the state is...
Please join StudyMode to read the full document