Unmasking the ‘personality’ of the state—Max Weber, <i>Staatsrechtslehre</i>, and the modern state

Duncan Kelly

in The State of the Political

Published by British Academy

Published in print October 2003 | ISBN: 9780197262870
Published online February 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191734892 | DOI:

Series: British Academy Postdoctoral Fellowship Monographs

Unmasking the ‘personality’ of the state—Max Weber, Staatsrechtslehre, and the modern state

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This chapter examines Max Weber's rejection of an idea central to nineteenth-century Staatsrechtslehre. This is the notion that the state itself is a ‘personality’. After outlining some of the main tenets of this tradition, the chapter seeks to show how Weber, borrowing from the work of Georg Jellinek in particular, retains a conceptual understanding of the state that stresses its position at the apex of political life. He nevertheless rejected the formalism of Jellinek's modified legal-positivist argument, which had resulted in his famous two-sided (one legal, the other political-sociological) account of the state. Weber insisted that the state could only be properly discussed as a relationship of domination, and in an empirical-sociological and comparative manner at that.

Keywords: Staatsrechtslehre; Max Weber; Georg Jellinek; political life; liberalism; state-legal theory

Chapter.  40491 words. 

Subjects: Political Theory

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