by Rod Hague and Martin Harrop

Chapter Two: The State

Chapter Notes

  • The emergence of the modern state in Europe from the medieval governance provided by the Church, monarchy and the nobility. The stimulus provided by military innovation and the Reformation to this process. The idea of sovereignty, and its taming through contract and consent, as the theoretical counterpart to these developments.
  • The expansion of the Western state in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries until about 1975: centralization, standardization, monopoly of force, mobilization of society, differentiation of state from society, expansion of public functions and growth in the state’s budget and employment.
  • The restructuring of the Western state, following the oil crises of the 1970s and their threat to ever growing public expenditure. The stimulus provided by conservative leaders, Reagan and Thatcher. But expansion of regulation means restructuring should be distinguished from retreat. Public spending as a share of GDP remains high and in some liberal democracies grows still.
  • The expansion of security and surveillance by governments after 9/11. The broadening of the security landscape to cover, for example, trans-national crime and civil emergencies. Financial crises call forth public response. The notion of human security.
  • The diversity of states: most states are small (population less than 10 million), with many island microstates. Diversity of income: developed/developing distinction no longer adequate. We use OECD’s four-fold distinction: high income, upper middle, lower middle and low income.
  • Most states are post-colonial. The four waves of decolonization: in Latin America in the nineteenth century; in Europe and the Middle East after the first war; in Africa, Asia and the Caribbean after the second world war; in the former Soviet Union after the collapse of communism. The characteristic post-colonial pattern: soft but authoritarian states or competitive authoritarian hybrids with limited penetration through society.
  • Governance beyond the state. How intergovernmental organizations intrude on the state: the segmented state. The European Union: a unique blend of intergovernmental and transnational elements.

Figures and tables


Multiple choice questions


Essays and term papers

  1. Is sovereignty finished?
  2. Should ensuring human security be the prime function of the modern state?

Hague & Harrop, 2013 edn, ch. 2.

D. Held, Democracy and the Global Order
G. Hyden, African Politics in Comparative Perspective
R. Jackson, Quasi-states: Sovereignty, International Relations and the Third World
M. Kaldor, Human Security
F. Lechner and J. Boli, The Globalization Reader
N. Nugent, The Government and Politics of the European Union
W. Opello and S. Rosow, The Nation-State and Global Order
T. Paul, The Nation-State in Question
J. Scholte, Globalization: A Critical Introduction
G. Sørensen, The Transformation of the State: Beyond the Myth of Retreat
L. Weiss, The Myth of the Powerless State



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