Theory of State

Theory of State


Criticism of Max Weber

Date : 18-jan-2024

David Beetham has criticised Weber’s theory because it gives very broad idea from society to society However, Beetham suggests we need to have a more detailed theory

Where concept of legitimacy is elaborated on the basis of types of regimes. we have to understand what are the different basis on which legitimacy operates in different types of political system.

Concept of legitimacy

Legitimacy represent consent of the people for the state Thus there is a difference in legality and legitimacy

According to law

Law may be the basis of Legitimacy but it is not the sufficient basis For example in a particular state those who are in power their power may be lawful but If there is a protest against the exercise of power It means they lack legitimacy

Thus, without consent of the governed no government can rule for long

In the words of Rousseau even the strongest is never strong enough until he converts his power into right. rightful exercise of power Means people considered it right

What happens when legitimacy decline

It leads to it leads to crisis of governability

Methods employed to build legitimacy

  1. Rule of law
  2. System of fundamental rights
  3. Freedom of press
  4. Independence of judiciary
  5. Social welfare measures
  6. Propaganda

Indicators of crisis of legitimacy

  1. Lack of law and order
  2. People do not pay taxes
  3. People do not observe national symbols
  4. People do not participate in elections

For example there was a huge legitimization crisis in India in mid 70s because of huge corruption, Failure on poverty elevation programme resulted into the call for total revolution by Jayaprakash Narayan

Concept of legitimation crisis given by Habermas

Introduction : Habermas is a second generation Frankfurt school scholar means which deviate from first generation.

The first generation of scholars were pessimistic. They believed that There is no scope for emancipation left.

Why ?

Because capitalism has developed various technique of domination For example, advertisement industry means we not able to understand their exploitation.

Why ?

Because control has raised event to the subconscious level. The critical school scholar were very pessimistic about human reasoning They believe that negative dialectives has started. It means reason taking us towards progress is not possible. Habermas differ from many contemporary scholars (postmodernist).

They are also critic of human reasoning. Postmodernist were critic of enlightenment. Development in evolution of philosophy were human history is seen as progressive. Habermas is Critical school scholar. Critical school has its roots in Marxism. Marxism aims at empowerment(Emancipation) of masses. Since he is a critical Marxist he is a critic of a type of Marxism which was exercised in former USSR.

What type of Marxism was there?


Habermas Is a critic of both advanced capitalist societies and communalist societies.


Both have been totalitarian

There was a lack of freedom. He has Focused on the analysis of advanced capitalist society. As he belong to USA. He has analysed the legitimation crisis faced by these societies He also proposes the method( For Russia) to overcome the crisis.

What is legitimation crisis

It is a inability of a state administrative structure to work smoothly

Why they cannot work smoothly ?

Because the trust is missing

There is a Resentment among the people against government It is expressed in the form of protest

Why Resentment ?

Because of the failure to fulfil the process or expectation. For example, the total revolution in India was the resentment against the government because it failed to deliver. Resentment reached to label that governance become impossible Hence, emergency had to imposed on the grounds of internal disturbances.

While estimation crisis will come in capitalist societies

Because in capitalist societies, a state tries to manage crisis of capitalism. In return, it creates crisis for itself.


Because capitalism is inherently contradictory in nature (System integration)

While legitimation crisis happened?

Because capitalism works on contradictory principles.

Because advanced capitalism works on contradictory principles. Advance capitalism means welfare state.

Original capitalism

(Laissez fair state)

The state not intervening in economy

Laissez means Which were lead to economic crisis.

Depression will create condition for revolution

How capitalism escapes revolution

By changing the nature of capitalism

By making it more humane or welfare state Means a state providing social security

Is it a permanent solution

No, because such measures are financed by industry (Progressive taxation)

When industry starts financing its profitability come down there will be a shortage of capitalism.

Thus, industry will not be able to support freebies Hence, actually, a state has to support the industry Thus state has to withdraw Social Security(Rolling back)

This will again lead to protest -> Legitimation crisis

Habermas mention Four types of crises in advanced capitalist society.

  1. Economic crisis: Which starts for economic system
  2. Rationality crisis : Crisis for political system, state will look for the ways to overcome economic crisis
  3. Legitimation crisis : There is a limit to which a state can manage the crisis. After which it is bound to create the protest, People protest is for legitimation crisis
  4. Motivational crisis : People lack motivation or willingness to accept the decision of government.


Because government has already lost the trust.

Thus, the crisis emerges for the entire system.

Habermas studied society by taking system approach He classified society into three systems

  1. Economic system : Origin of economic crisis
  2. Political system : Facing personality crisis which result into legitimacy crisis
  3. Social cultural system : Civil society it faces motivational crisis

Crisis of one system entering into another system So a systematic reforms are required Means changing the system means changing the way in which the system operate

Bringing the system which builds the trust

How a government rebuilt the trust

By bringing the problems in public domain Means public sphere. Public sphere should be free.

What has happened to public sphere

In his book, the structural transformation of the public sphere He talks about colonisation of public sphere. It means public sphere is not free Means it is colonised

Who has colonised the public sphere

The capitalist class. In fact, the problem has emerged for governance because of colonisation of public sphere.

For publica sphere Habermas Uses the term “life world” A place where people interact with each other on day to day basis

It is actually the life line for the system

Transformation of public sphere

It is a causes of legitimation crisis. Initially the capitalist classes stabilises The free public sphere This free public sphere was Responsible for collapse of feudalism. It had lead to the revolution like French Revolution. It had brought freedom However, once coming to power bourgeois class colonise the public sphere They establish their control. They have ended the ideal speech situation

They ended the scope of communication Hence, no solution for the crisis in the system Rather system itself under crisis For example India press has played the revolutionary role during freedom movement However after independence things changed especially since 90s There has been colonisation of mass media

Habermas gives discourse ethics

Discourse ethics is the only way to find solutions It is a different types of ethics not based on preconceived notion or predetermined value It is a Procedural ethics. Just setting the right procedure and whatever outcome will come out of it is bound to be right

Discourse ethics leads to the concept of communicative action Means the revival of life world creating the public sphere where people come And for the communication. In ideal speech situation means where They can express themselves freely

Where there is no force other than the force of reason. our problems can be solved only by using our reason.

How Our reasons comes

Through dialogue (deliberation) Thus, Habermas is influenced by Aristotle And Rousseau’s concept of legitimacy. It is based on the theory of General will/ Popular sovereignty


What is the purpose of theory of general will


Rousseau suggests that General will emerge only when People deliberate with their real wills Hence, habermas is not pessimistic about the Prospect of Human Society like critical school

The scholars on postmodernist scholars He maintains Immense faith in human reasoning He does not tell to throw the capitalist system out He rather suggest how it can be made legitimate. Unlike post modernist who are pessimistic about enlightenment project. Habermas believes that Enlightenment project is incomplete enlightenment has to be taken forward

How ?

By creating a scope for growth of human reasoning by revival of public sphere.

Habermas is a critic of Max Weber. Max Weber believed that the most rational form of authority is bureaucratic (Rational legal authority)

However, according to Habermas Bureaucracy has limited capacity to reason

Bureaucracy itself suffer from personality crisis, Answers to the problems of governance lies not in bureaucracy. But in democracy thus not only Habermas tells The reason behind the deficit of Governance but also offer solutions

Habermas differentiate between instrumental reasoning proposed by Max Weber as a solution And The normative reasoning. Which, at the base of his theory of deliberative democracy. Normative reasoning means which are right value will come only by discourse Ethics.


Theory of a state

Introduction : Garner

Political science begins and end with state It means the state is core area of a study in political science. Political science can be broadly divided into two phases

  1. Traditional political science : Its focus was on the study of institution For example, a state
  2. Modern political science : behavioural approach politics as a process means the study of power

Present scenario :

There is a growth of neo institutionalism means the study of institution have again gained importance However, Neo Institutionalism includes The study of both institution and process.

There was a time when a state lost importance as a central subject of political enquiry/ Study

However, Theda Skocpol Call for “bringing the state back in”

There is a fear of political science losing its identity It is getting submerged under the discipline of sociology. Hence, centrality of the state in the subject should be brought back

What is the state?

A state represent authority, That exercise of power which is considered legitimate

What is a traditional view of state

Juridico-Legal means Hobbesian (one institution) means state has monopoly over power means there is a single source of authority.

Contemporary approach

Means postmodern : Means post structural. Means there is not just one state.

state is everywhere Because power is everywhere. We represent the state because we represent governmentality

What is government?

Instrumentality of state

What is function of government?

To govern us

Who govern us?

We govern ourself

We have governmentality

Theories of a state

  1. Liberal theory of state : Liberal theory of a state can be studied under three heads
  1. Liberal theory of origin of a state : There are two theories
  1. Social contract theory : Street is a product of our will. That is also a liberal theory of a state legitimates

Why should we obey a state?

Because state is a representation of our will. Theory of legitimacy and theory of political obligation is same.

  1. Evolutionary theory : MacIver, According to this theory the state is not the result of contract state is a product of evolution. State has evolved out of various Associations therefore state represents features of different associations For example family church guilds and others

MacIver, Theory of the origin of a state is also called as pluralist theory of origin of a state.

According to pluralism the state is an association like many association. There are many associations which are prior to a state and are not dependent on a state.

  1. Liberal theory of function of a state : There are two theories
  1. Laissez fair state
  2. Welfare state
  1. Liberal theory of nature of a state:

Raj Singh

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