Pub. date: 2010 | Online Pub. Date: May 06, 2010 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412958660 | Print ISBN: 9781412958653 | Online ISBN: 9781412958660| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
Christopher W. Morris
A state is a particular form of political organization of a society, one where power is highly concentrated and where government is intolerant of rivals to its rule. It is often said that states possess or claim an exclusive right to control the use of coercion or force. How exactly to characterize the state is a matter of some controversy. The state is obviously central to the concerns of most modern and contemporary political theorists; some have even said that it is the subject matter of political theory. There are different ways of characterizing the notion, some narrower than others, and there are many controversies associated with the analysis of the concept. The general characterization previously offered is a good starting point, but it is insufficiently detailed for many purposes. We should first distinguish between broad and narrow characterizations of the state. For some purposes—for instance, the investigations of anthropologists ...