Modern State Research Paper

1951 Words 8 Pages
Q: Is Sovereignty the main characteristic of the modern state?
Sovereignty is the main characteristic, which can also be referred to as the most important, of the modern state for many reasons which include the essential nature of sovereignty to the capitalist system (Wallerstein,1999, p.32) and the way in which it allows the state to protect its citizens (Held, 1989, p.16). However, there are other characteristics of the modern state to consider such as the feature of a bureaucracy and the ability of the state to use force (Gill, 2016, p.3). Despite these features playing a key part in the modern state they are not as important as sovereignty which has an essential role in allowing the state to survive. Before these features can be discussed
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There have been a range of definitions given but as suggested by Gill it refers to institutions which are set above others due to their ability to perform a specific function (Gill, 2016, p.3). Bureaucracies initially developed to aid the monarchy in ruling but have changed to be a representative of the citizens within the state (Mann, 2003, p.119). One reason that bureaucracy is important to the modern state is that it ensures that planning can be carried out effectively due to its superior knowledge of how the state works (Wright, 1974, p.71). This is evident in many areas in which the state operates but is particularly apparent in the economy. Bureaucracy enables the state to enter into new ventures which can include many industries such as steel (Ickenberry and Hall, 1989). Without bureaucracy acting as a guide for the modern state it is unlikely that it could grow and succeed. However, despite bureaucracy having a crucial role to play within the state economy, the amount of influence that bureaucracy has within many modern states has been in decline. For example, in the 1980s Thatcher identified the civil service as a key opponent to the state which created problems rather than solving them which led to her targeting it and instigating reforms. (Pierre, 1995, p.3). Alternatively, this demonstrates the power of bureaucracy as leaders trying to control it or minimise its position within society shows how important it is within the state (Pierre, 1995, p.2). Bureaucracy is also important to the modern state through the way in which it represents the state to the public. Many people associate bureaucracy with the state and therefore consider it to represent its values. As a result, this can lead to many citizens associating bureaucracy with negative aspects of the state they live within such as totalitarianism. (Du Gay, 2000, p.1).

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