Critically examine the claim by states to be the legitimate governing authority in a territory.
This essay will first define 'the State', and then look at evidence to examine the above claim.
The state is a set of institutions that possess the authority to make the rules and laws that govern the people within a defined territory. Max Weber, cited in “Exploring Social Lives”, defined the state as claiming “a monopoly on the legitimate use of physical force within a given territory”, (Bromley et al, 2009). The state is made up of many institutions and organisations, including the Government, the Armed Forces, the Judiciary, the Civil Service, Health Authorities and the Police force. It is worth noting that Weber only said that the state “claims” to have a monopoly of force, whereas political theorist John Hoffman, cited in “Exploring Social Lives”, says that the State would not need to exist if it were more than a claim, if nobody contested this claim and lived peacefully, regarding all laws as legitimate, there would be no need for the state to exist, he said it would be “wholly redundant”, (Bromley et al, 2009).
The anecdotal evidence of “Jill's story”, in chapter 8 of “Making Social Lives”, shows how we are all influenced by the State as we go about our daily lives. Jill's day started with her alarm clock ringing, even this minor event has its influence from the state as an Act of Parliament with the introduction of Summer Time Act of 1916. This is the concept of British summer time, meaning we all get up an hour earlier from the end of March until the end of October. Jill’s day included renewing her car MOT, making an appointment for her child's check-up with the health visitor and an inspection at the school where she was employed. Whilst driving to work she listened to politicians that were campaigning on the radio and had to make way for a police car and two ambulances, all the time avoiding pot holes in the road and paying attention to her...
Bibliography: Bromley, S; Clarke, J; Hinchliffe, S; Taylor, S. (eds) (2009) Exploring Social Lives, Milton Keynes, The Open University
I have struggled with this course due to work and personal commitments and approached this final assignment with dread. However, I found this the most interesting of all as I was able to delve into the politics of Northern Ireland and experienced it first hand during two tours of the province with the British Army.
Word Count: 55
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