The Concept of Modern State - Essay Example

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The Concept of Modern State

The nature of the modern state as a type of political organization is too complex to be adequately reflected by a simple functional definition: existing definitions mostly revolve around the main structural or institutional characteristics of the state such as internal and external sovereignty, legal and economic system, level of centralisation, social stratification, and bureaucratisation (Nelson, 2006, p. 7-9). The most influential definition of the state was proposed by Max Weber in his famous publication Politics as a Vocation: "a relation of men dominating men, a relation supported by means of legitimate (i.e. considered to be legitimate) violence" (Weber 1994, p. 56). According to this statement, the essence of modern state is monopolisation of the means of legitimate physical violence over a definite territory. Weber addressed this special form of legitimacy of the state's monopoly as 'rational-legal' legitimacy which relies on impersonal rules that constrain the power of state elites (Weber 1994). This definition brightly illustrates one of the key distinctions between the modern state and earlier forms of political organization: the former is based on territorial jurisdiction while the latter rely on lineage and heredity (Llewellen 1983).
Although the majority of modern states fit Weber's definition there are also some states with characteristics that do not fit Weber's ...Show more


The modern state is probably the most notable outcome of continuous rationalisation that underlies the process of historic development. A long series of social, economic and political transformations eventually led to formation of the modern nation-state which became the most perfect type of political system up to date…
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