Definition of State
(noun) A system of power and authority that claims the legitimate right to use force, composed of institutions (i.e., government, legal system, military, police) that regulates society within its territory.
- Plural: States
- The term “State” does not have to be capitalized, but typically is in legal documents and is capitalized here for differentiation.
- The conceptualization of State has undergone semantic change over time and the concept continues to evolve.
- “State” and “government” are not the same thing sociologically, the government is part of the State. However, outside of the social sciences the terms are used interchangeably.
- Not to be confused with a “state” that is part of a federation such as North Carolina in the United States or New South Wales in the Federation of Australia.
- “The development of the modern form of organization of corporate groups in all fields is nothing less than identical with the development and continued spread of bureaucratic administration. This is true of church and state, of armies, political parties, economic enterprises, organizations to promote all kinds of causes, private associations, clubs, and many others. Its development is, to take the most striking case, the most crucial phenomenon of the modern Western state” (Weber 1947:337).
- “The major impetus for the creation of national education systems lay in the need to provide the state with trained administrators, engineers and military personnel; to spread dominant national cultures and inculcate popular ideologies of nationhood; and so to forge the political and cultural unity of burgeoning nation states and cement the ideological hegemony of their dominant classes” (Green 1990:309).
- Economic Sociology Resources – Books, Journals, and Helpful Links
- Politics and Policy Resources – Books, Journals, and Helpful Links
- Word origin of “state” – Online Etymology Dictionary: etymonline.com
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- Oppenheimer, Franz. 1914. The State: Its History and Development Viewed Sociologically. Translated by J. M. Gitterman. New York: Vanguard Press.
- Parsons, Talcott. 1969. Politics and Social Structure. New York: Free Press.
- Pierre, Jon, and B. Guy Peters. 2000. Governance, Politics and the State. New York: St. Martin’s Press.
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Green, Andy. 1990. Education and State Formation: The Rise of Education Systems in England, France and the USA. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.
Weber, Max.  1947. The Theory of Social and Economic Organization. Translated by A. M. Henderson and T. Parsons. New York: Oxford University Press.
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ASA – American Sociological Association (5th edition)
Bell, Kenton, ed. 2013. “State.” In Open Education Sociology Dictionary. Retrieved August 24, 2019 (https://sociologydictionary.org/state/).
APA – American Psychological Association (6th edition)
State. (2013). In K. Bell (Ed.), Open education sociology dictionary. Retrieved from https://sociologydictionary.org/state/
Chicago/Turabian: Author-Date – Chicago Manual of Style (16th edition)
Bell, Kenton, ed. 2013. “State.” In Open Education Sociology Dictionary. Accessed August 24, 2019. https://sociologydictionary.org/state/.
MLA – Modern Language Association (7th edition)
“State.” Open Education Sociology Dictionary. Ed. Kenton Bell. 2013. Web. 24 Aug. 2019. <https://sociologydictionary.org/state/>.