Coming and Going: On the State Monopolization of the Legitimate "Means of Movement" Author(s): John Torpey
Source: Sociological Theory, Vol. 16, No. 3 (Nov., 1998), pp. 239-259 Published by: American Sociological Association
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Coming and Going: On the State Monopolization of the
Legitimate "Means of Movement"*
University of California, Irvine
Following the imagery of "expropriation"used by Marx to describe the process of capitalist developmentand by Weberto characterizestates'monopolizationof the legitimate use of violence, I argue that modernstates have also "expropriatedthe legitimate means of movement"and monopolized the authority to determine who may circulate within and cross their borders.Against this background,we should reconsiderthe metaphor of "penetration" typically used to discuss the enhanced capacity of modern states relative to their predecessors, and instead thinkof states as "embracing"populations, identifyingpersons unambiguouslyin order to control their movementsand to distinguish membersfrom nonmembers.
The vagabond is by definition a suspect.
In his writings,KarlMarxsoughtto show thatthe process of capitalistdevelopmentinvolved the expropriationof the "means of production"from workers by capitalists. The result of this process was that workers were deprived of the capacity to produce on their own and became dependent upon wages from the owners of the means of production for their survival. Borrowing this rhetoric,Marx's greatest heir and critic, Max Weber,arguedthat a central feature of the modernexperience was the successful expropriationof the "means of violence" from individualsby the state. In the modernworld, in contrastto the medieval period in Europe and much historical experience elsewhere, only states could "legitimately" use violence; all other would-be wielders of violence must be licensed by states to do so. Those not so licensed were thus deprived of the freedom to employ violence against others. Following the rhetoric used by Marx and Weber,this article seeks to demonstrate the proposition that modern states, and the international state system of which they are a part, have expropriated from individuals and private entities the legitimate "means of
movement," particularly,thoughby no means exclusively, across internationalboundaries. The result of this process has been to deprive people of the freedom to move across certain spaces and to renderthem dependenton states and the state system for the authorization to do so-an authoritywidely held in private hands theretofore.A critical aspect of this process has been that people have also become dependenton states for the possession of an "identity"from which they cannot escape and which may significantly shape their access to various spaces. There are, of course, virtues to this system-principally of a diplomatic nature-just as the expropriationof the means of productionby capitalists allows propertylessworkersto survive as wage laborersand the expropriationof the means of violence by states tends to pacify everyday life. Yet in the course of each of these *Please addresscorrespondenceto the authorat 3151 Social Science Plaza, University of...
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