The State: Definition, Dimensions, and Historical Emergence

Guillermo O'Donnell

in Democracy, Agency, and the State

Published in print June 2010 | ISBN: 9780199587612
Published online September 2010 | e-ISBN: 9780191723384 | DOI:

Series: Oxford Studies in Democratization

The State: Definition, Dimensions, and Historical Emergence

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This chapter begins with a discussion of Weber's conceptualization of the state, to which it adds some nuances often overlooked by the literature. On this basis, it proposes disaggregating the state in four main dimensions — bureaucracy, the legal system, collective identity, and filter — to be added to its delimitation of a population and territory and its recognition as such by various actors in the international system. After an analytical excursus that discusses characteristics typical of most complex associations, including the state, the chapter moves to a summary exposition of state-making in the Northwest, mentioning the rather exceptional cases of Germany and, especially, the United States. Once again some references to other parts of the world are added which are looked at in more detail in Chapter VIII, with a focus on Latin America.

Keywords: the state; state making; Weber; dimensions of the state; United States; Germany

Chapter.  9890 words. 

Subjects: Comparative Politics

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