Characteristics Of Sovereignty

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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Sovereignty has been given many definitions throughout history which range vastly from Schmidt’s definition which says that sovereignty belongs to the man ‘who decides the exception’ (Schmidt, 2005, p.5) to Hinsley’s definition which says that sovereignty is the ability to have complete control within the community (Pierson, 1996). Although, all these definitions give one a slightly different view on what is meant by sovereignty the obvious theme is that sovereignty essentially belongs to the highest institution within society that has the power to make authoritative decisions (Hague et al, 1954, p.7). Furthermore, it is important to understand what is meant by the ‘modern state’. In this essay the term will be understood in accordance with Weber’s definition which says that the state is a ‘human community that claims the monopoly of a legitimate …show more content…
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

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