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What are states? Compare and cotrast different theories of the state

Uploaded by ar14 on Nov 04, 2001

The main purpose of the state is to shape and control almost every human activity. Where the state does not shape or control it regulates, supervises, authorizes or proscribes . According to Heywood, a state consists of five key categories. Firstly, a state must be sovereign, in which it is able to exercise absolute power over its own affairs in standing above all other associations including the government and groups in society. Secondly, it must consist of public institutions, which must serve the public interest of the population, not just the private interests of a few individuals. Thirdly, citizens of a state must accept the state’s authority in a process known as legitimation. Fourthly, the state is an instrument of domination as it must have sufficient ‘muscle’ to over-ride any other opposing groups as well as able to uphold laws. Lastly, a state must have territoriality; thus it must be recognised by other states as having defined geographical borders . Many political scientists are at odds with one another about what states are and thus may reject Heywood’s definitions. In this essay three confronting views will be discussed. These include Heywood’s view that was just briefly summarized. Secondly, The Pluralist view, which argues that the state is like a neutral arbitrator that tries to keep the peace between different groups. Lastly, the Marxist view that argues that the state is an instrument of the capitalist classes will be discussed. These views will be compared and contrasted.

In theory, states are sovereign. That is they exercise supreme authority within their own territory. According to Heywood, a sovereign state can exercise total power on its citizens. For example, a state may enter into treaties, declare war, or adopt any other course of action without another country's or a rival domestic group’s consent. It is clear that throughout the world there currently are many states where their government does not have absolute power on its own affairs . When a civil war breaks out in a certain state, the government certainly loses its sovereignty throughout the country. It is interesting to ask oneself whether that ‘state’ ceases to be a state. If the answer is yes, then there are a considerable less number of states then we had previously imagined. A few examples where a state does not have absolute power over its territory include Russia, where the civil war in Chechnya undermines...

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Uploaded by:   ar14

Date:   11/04/2001

Category:   Miscellaneous

Length:   8 pages (1,789 words)

Views:   1641

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