Studying the State

Walter Scheidel

in The Oxford Handbook of the State in the Ancient Near East and Mediterranean

Published in print February 2013 | ISBN: 9780195188318
Published online January 2013 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Classics and Ancient History

Studying the State

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  • Classical Studies
  • Greek and Roman Law
  • Classical History



This chapter discusses the concept and various definitions of state. These include Max Weber's definition of the state as a specific type of political organization and his emphasis on regulation and coercion anchored in a distinct and differentiated organization, and John Haldon's opinion that a state is a set of institutions and personnel exerting authority over a territorially distinct area. The chapter argues that while existing theories variously privilege resource stress, state structure, and state size, actual outcomes are often seen as mediated by exogenous factors such as competitors and environmental factors.

Keywords: state; Max Weber; political organization; regulation; coercion; John Haldon; authority; resource stress; state structure; state size

Article.  25340 words. 

Subjects: Classical Studies ; Greek and Roman Law ; Classical History

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