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The State Difficult term for most Americans Tend to think of local government—this a function of federalism and early confederation Instead, we are thinking.

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Presentation on theme: "The State Difficult term for most Americans Tend to think of local government—this a function of federalism and early confederation Instead, we are thinking."— Presentation transcript:


2 The State Difficult term for most Americans Tend to think of local government—this a function of federalism and early confederation Instead, we are thinking of centralized authority

3 Defining the State Max Weber: monopoly of violence over a given territory Sovereignty – ability to carry out actions independently of internal/external challengers State is thus institution that wields force to ensure order within and resistance to threats from without

4 Are States Just Rackets? Not unlike organized crime! Provide protection Demand payment Punish violators Adjudicate disputes Battle rivals

5 States Make Policy Laws and regulations Property rights Health and labor protections Social welfare Unlike criminal rackets, states turn ideas into political practice and the state is valued for its own sake The state creates standards through which public goals such as freedom and equality can be achieved

6 States and Regimes How is a regime different from a state? Regimes as the fundamental rules and norms of politics Long-term goals regarding freedom and equality Where should power reside? How should it be used?

7 Ways in which Regimes Differ Democratic or authoritarian: How different? United States versus Canada: How different? Can trace these differences in constitutions, but also in informal practices and rules

8 Regimes as Institutions Often institutionalized Not easily changed Dramatic events, revolutions or crises, removal by war: “regime change” (Iraq) Sometimes not institutionalized, leader operates as she or he sees fit: “L’État, c’est moi” (Louis XIV—“I am the State”)

9 States and Regimes, Hardware and Software States as machinery or computer of politics Regimes as political “software,” setting the basic range of actions for the computer Each state is “programmed” differently

10 What Is Government? The leadership in charge of running the state The operator of the hardware and software! May be democratic or undemocratic Weakly institutionalized—removed by public, by force, by mortality…


12 Origins of Political Organization Where did states come from? Did not exist for vast majority of human history: Tribes City-states Empires Now only states rule the earth. Why?

13 Early Political Organization Nomadic groups become sedentary— agriculture Creation of surplus, specialization Creation of inequality Growth in population Need to resolve dilemmas of freedom and equality—had not existed before

14 Emergence of Political Organization Make and enforce rules Mechanism to solve conflict Set collective goals Development of societies required political organization Finding balance between freedom and equality led to questions of who should have power and how they should wield it

15 Consensus or Coercion? Consensus: social contract between rulers and ruled (Hobbes) Coercion: rise of the state and institutions created inequality and harmed social balance (Rousseau) Both are true, depending on time and place Is political organization the result of public consensus (bottom-up) or elite coercion (top- down)?

16 Pre-state Societies Some scholars claim that the rise of the organized state led to increased violence New research shows that in pre-state human groups, constant warfare and violence was endemic States reduce warfare, increase protection, decrease violence, and gain legitimacy

17 The Rise of the Modern State Arose in Europe in Middle Ages. Why? Roman Empire the first modern state Political organization Infrastructure (roads, aqueducts) Trade

18 Collapse of Roman Empire: “Dark Ages,” 500–1000 C.E. Europe fragmented into many rival territories with no central authority Decline of basic political, economic, social institutions


20 Dark Ages and Political Change Hypercompetitive environment Constant warfare, rapid organization evolution Small states emerge as warlords consolidate territory Also shaped by geography—hard to unify Europe (unlike China)

21 The Advantages of States Encouraged economic development as way to gain revenue, fight rivals Encouraged technological innovation or application for same reason—gunpowder, cartography Homogenization of peoples within territories— common language, customs, identity (a nation)

22 European States Expand Outward Remove rivals in Europe (such as Catholic Church) Begin to voyage outside of Europe for new markets and resources Creation of empires across globe Even after end of empire, former colonies themselves become states

23 Comparing State Power How do we compare and evaluate states? Forms of legitimacy Relative centralization of power

24 Legitimacy Confers authority and power Legitimate behavior is seen as “right thing to do” from a sense of reciprocal responsibility Consensus over coercion Defined as a value where someone or something is recognized or accepted as right and proper

25 Forms of Legitimacy According to Max Weber: Traditional Charismatic Rational-Legal

26 Traditional Legitimacy Valid because “it has always been done this way” Accepted over a long period of time Historical myths and legends Continuity between past and present Example: monarchy Highly institutionalized

27 Charismatic Legitimacy Opposite of traditional Charisma as the force of ideas Embodied in a single individual Example: Hitler, Martin Luther King Weakly institutionalized

28 Rational-Legal Legitimacy Based on neither rituals nor force of ideas Based on laws, procedures Rules are key—how did someone come into power? Example: George Bush, though some might contest this! Bumper sticker: “He’s not my president”—questioning election process Strongly institutionalized

29 Centralization/Decentralization Federalism/unitary Strong/weak/failed states How much power does a state have, and where does that power reside?

30 Federalism versus Unitary States Federalism: significant powers devolved to the local level by constitution, not easily taken away Examples of powers: taxes, education, security (local police, militia) Examples of federal states: United States, Germany, Russia, Canada, Mexico

31 Unitary States Power resides with central government Can devolve powers to local level, but also take them away if it chooses Examples of unitary states: Britain, Japan, France, Sweden

32 Strong versus Weak States Strong states are able to carry out basic tasks expected of them: security, public policy, basic goods and services Weak states less able to fulfill tasks and may face rivals (organized crime, guerrilla movements, other states) Failed states have lost most of their ability to monopolize force and provide services

33 Capacity and Autonomy Capacity: ability of states to get things done; fulfill tasks Autonomy: ability to act free from direct public interference Too high autonomy and capacity leads to authoritarianism; too low, to state failure Both depend on the issue at hand—might have autonomy or capacity in one area but not another

34 Weak or Strong State? US? Capacity: high or low? Examples? Autonomy: high or low? Examples? China? Capacity: high or low? Examples? Autonomy: high or low? Examples?

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