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Questions on Political Institution

What is the state and what are its features?

The state is the institution that monopolizes legitimate power in a territory through the establishment of its major features: courts, official leaders, written laws and taxation.

What is the conflict view of the state?

Conflict permeates the state which exists in part to regulate it. But conflict theory shows that the state to be a tool of the elites in the class struggle. This justifies sometimes resorting to non routine or extra-legal means of remedying this exploitation, such as demonstrations, violent strikes, terrorism, revolution and guerrilla warfare.

What are the functions of the state?

The major functions of the state are to arbitrate disputes between private parties to contribute to social control of the society to serve as the agent of intersocial relations, to provide planning and direction for the society and increasingly in recent times to provide for the welfare of those unable to care for themselves.

What are the origins of the state?

The origins of the state are partly hidden because many of the first states emerged in pre-historic times. Simple societies exist without states. City states emerged with the invention of agriculture. As technology expands, so does the state. New ideas such as sovereignty had to be invented for the state to be accepted. Thomas and Meyers point out those contemporary states emerge not in a vacuum but out of cultural conditions that influence their size and form.

What are the bases of power?

Power, the ability to realize one's will in a communal action even against the resistance of others rest either on the threat of physical force or the ability to offer valuable contingent upon compliance with commands.

What are the types of authority?

Authority is power legitimized by tradition, charisma or rational-legal institutions.

How do states differ?

States differ primarily in how equally they distribute political power and how much of the societies affairs they try to control. They also have important differences in ideology.

What is Oligarchy?

It is the dictatorial rule of the small, upper stratum.

What is pluralism?

The view that many relatively small groups have political power and that none dominates in general.

What is hegemony?

Hegemony is the situation in which one nation maintains a position of leadership or dominance over other nations.

What are codified norms?

Codified norms rules that have been written and published.
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