The state is seen as a set of organisations and practices that aims to prevent social chaos and make social order within a defined territory. It refers to the shared ideas and expectations regarding the ordering of social life and establishes who might legitimately claim to exercise authority over many aspects of society from churches to parents. Some people see the state as ‘the government’, whereas others may see it as different institutions such as their school or hospital.
However, the state is less solid and more complex than this.In order for the state to govern its territory it needs to have legitimate authority, which means it needs the consent of those being governed. The government demands the right to represent or rule some areas of society’s lives and in many cases; social scientists are able to see the difference between what the government is and what state is. In order to examine and assess the view that the legitimacy of state is always contested, this essay will be drawing on evidence from different social scientists and researchers in order to argue both sides of this claim.Authority is an important resource for the state and any other organisation seeking to govern peoples conduct as it enables organisations and social actors that form parts of the state to direct aspects of social life.
It also enables organisations to intervene to direct particular people or improve particular conditions. The relationship between the state and its territory is not pre-given but rather is a product of constant claims and the authority of the state has to be created and sustained.The German sociologist Max Weber defined the state in a lecture given in 1918 as ‘A human community that (successfully) claims the monopoly of the legitimate use of physical force within a given territory’. (Blakely & Saward, 2009, Page 361) This implies, the state being the government and has control over a certain country or area. Therefore, in this definition, the state is being defined as territorial. This definition is seen in real life today, for example, the organisation or political party voted into Downing Street are given political legitimacy by achieving the majority, monopoly, of the UK vote.
In effect, this party is given the authority to govern by the majority of voters. It can however be said that this is always contested as there are hundreds of thousands of voters that will vote to elect an opposing party. Sates today are far more complex and contain many more organisations than they did over 50 years ago. The purpose of this essay is to examine different points of view and evidence that shows this challenge to the authority of the state and assess the idea that this challenge is always there.A. J.
P Taylor, an English historian argues that “a sensible law-abiding Englishman could pass through life and hardly notice the existence of the state, beyond the post office and policeman”. (Blakely, 2009, Page 355) John Hoffman, a political theorist counter argues Weber’s theory and argues that the state cannot claim a monopoly of the legitimate use of force as this is simply not possible. This claim on monopoly is continually contested by ‘competitors’, i. e.
criminals, terrorists, etc. f this claim was indeed true, Hoffman argues that there would be no need for a governing state as everyone would act peacefully and regard all laws as legitimate, (Blakely and Saward, 2009, Page 373) Christopher Hood, (1982) a political scientist has argued that the bodies making up the state are a “formless mass” because states nowadays are so large and complex it is almost impossible to describe their importance and beyond their importance also their many functions.In the UK, after Privatization, a large amount of state run industries and services were transferred to private ownership. For example, the utilities such as gas, electricity, water and transport services are now run by private companies.