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1 Theories of the State Summary

2 Definitions The modern state emerged in the 16 th century in western Europe Max Weber defines it as ‘ a human community that successfully claims the monopoly of the legitimate use of physical force within a given territory’ Andrew Heywood (2002) defines the State using 5 ideas 1. The State is ‘sovereign’ – it has power over all other groups 2. State power is legitimate, right and legal. State decisions are binding on everyone 3. The State can use force/violence when order breaks down 4. The State governs a defined geographical area and everyone that lives therein 5. State institutions are ‘public’ institutions and are responsible for enforcing collective decisions

3 Pluralist Theory Weathervane model – state policy is directed (blown like a weathervane) by public opinion and pressure groups The Neutral State model – state seen as an impartial referee between competing interest groups The broker state model – state has its own agenda (not completely neutral) but its main role is to broker deals between various interest groups Theorists – Dahl, Dunleavy and O’Leary

4 Marxist Theory ‘The executive of the modern State is but a committee for managing the affairs of the whole bourgeoisie’ (Marx Communist Manifesto 1848) Instrumentalists (Milliband) – the state rules in the interests of the ruling class because state officials and elite members share the same background Structuralists (Poulantzas) – the state supports capitalism because it is part of the embedded structure of society Hegemonic (Gramsci) – the state maintains capitalism rule through the power of ideas – hegemonic and ideological control of the superstructure. However the State occasionally has to resort to violence to keep control because of the contradictions intrinsic to capitalist society i.e. class conflict – (Offe)

5 New Right or Neo Liberal theory Very critical of the modern ‘expanded’ state 1. Intervenes too much in the economy and distorts the market 2. Interferes too much in the lives of citizens – ‘the nanny state’ 3. Creates dependency culture through benefit system 4. Seeks to ‘roll back the frontiers of the state’ through privatisation, welfare reform and marketisation Theorists – Murray, Saunders Politicians – Thatcher, Cameron, Gove, Blair (Third Way ideas influenced by New Right thinking)

6 State Centred Theories Instead of seeing the State as a reflection of power within society, state centred theories argue that the State acts independently and frequently acts in its own interests Eric Nordlinger – the state often acts independently and clearly has its own agenda – e.g. Votes on death penalty always go against public opinion. Theda Skocpol – states have their own priorities and goals and acts independently to promote these

7 Globalisation and the State Globalisation has reduced the power of the nation State which cannot compete with the power of TNCs As a response some states have banded together in larger political units like the EU which has resulted in some loss of sovereignty for nation states Theorists – Giddens – the State has lost powers but has a future but global problems need to be tackled on a global level – pollution, global warming, pandemics, financial crises David Held – nation state should be replaced by ‘global democracy Leslie Sklair – nation states increasingly overshadowed by TNCs – global capitalism creating global problems at an alarming rate due to the relentless pursuit of profit

8 Review the lessons Definitions Pluralist Theories Marxist theories New Right Theories Globalisation and the State Decline_of_the_Nation_State.ppt Summary

9 Revision Guide Read pages and make note of additional studies Then complete the practice questions and exam question on page 151 Use white text book for general reading – complete ‘check my understanding’ and attempt exam practice


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