Sociological Aphorism

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The state is a social relation. Discuss the application and limitations of this sociological aphorism by reference to the social theory of Marx, Durkheim and Weber. "In many ways the rise of the state was the descent of the world from freedom to slavery." - Marvin Harris (Cannibals and Kings: 1977) The term known as 'state' within societies, has been difficult to define to a particular connotation. Throughout history, from many different civilisations, from the Roman Empire to present day politics, the 'state' has adopted different policies and regimes in order to govern the said country, albeit potentially having ulterior motives. The concept of the 'state' is often defined as the municipal government of a society, which is put into place…show more content…
Many other scholars have agreed or attempted to demystify each individual theory. This essay shall confer as to each separate theory of the state as a relation. It shall furthermore discuss the limitations of each theory, while examining contributions from other theorists and scholars in the field of anthropology and sociology. According to Marx, societies consist of two structures: super and infra. The latter consists of the base structures needed for the said societies production and operation; structures such as transport, energy and healthcare are part of the infrastructure. Institutions such as the justice system, military and family, among others, make up the superstructure. Marx viewed the 'state' as being in a relationship with society as one of control and subservience, respectively, therefore creating conflict. In Marx's theory of the state, he postulates the terms of mode/means of production, where the labour force are oppressed by the elite and owners of the production. He conferred that there were different stratifications, which formed economic bases, creating an ideological superstructure which consisted of juridical and…show more content…
He elucidates further that the people who control and protect the elite/ruling class hold top positions such as "cabinet ministers, MP's; senior police'; military officers and top judges (Miliband, 1969). However, in answer to Miliband, Poulantzas (1969, 1976) provided his own theory that suggested the power in a 'state' lay with the construction of society rather than an personage basis. He confers that there is a "factor of cohesion of a social formation" therefore suggesting that a 'state' is indispensable in order for the function of a capitalist society. Poulantzas also conversed that, while the 'state' did indeed protect the interests of the elite and ruling classes, the make-up of the 'state' did not necessarily consist of members of the ruling class (Poulantzas, 1976). Marxist theory of the 'state' and capitalism has been supported and both criticised throughout the decades, however, there is clear evidence within today's societies that a 'state' does indeed exist, one need only observe the United Kingdom of present day. It can thus be suggested that Marx's theory of the 'state' is a social relation, however, how the individual interprets the 'state' lies within their perception and observation during periods in past and present situations where such said 'state' implements ideologies and policies which
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