Academic Conference on Political Systems of Early States. Collection of Papers
Collection of papers on the early state presented at an international conference in Xi'an, China, in 2013.
Within the framework of the overwhelming majority of modern theories, the state is considered as a specialized and centralized institution for governing a society, to what its right to exercise coercive authority – legitimized violence is often added as the state’s critical characteristic feature. Contrariwise, my approach stems from the presumption that the state should be perceived not as a specific set of political institutions only but, first and foremost, as a type of society to which this set of institutions is adequate. Following this approach leads to the necessity of paying special attention to coming to the fore of the non-kin, territorial relations in state society – the point often evicted from many contemporary definitions of the state due to the wide-spread vision of it as merely a specific form of political organization. I also argue that political centralization cannot be regarded as a feature specific for the state, as it is applicable to many non-state forms of societies. In the meantime, the feature typical for the state only, is specialization resulting in administrators’ professionalization, that is, in the formation of bureaucracy, related directly to the non-kin social ties coming into prominence. As for the right to coerce, it should not be made the central point of the state concept because it is a dependent variable itself: the specificity of monopoly of the legitimate violence in state society is precisely that it is exercised through and by bureaucrats who operate within bureaucratic institutions.