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

Show Summary Details


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

Full text: subscription required

How to subscribe Recommend to my Librarian

Buy this work at British Academy »

Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content. Please, subscribe or login to access all content.