1 Malajind

State Capacity Comparative Politics Essay

This article identifies and addresses key conceptual and measurement issues raised by measures of state capacity in studies of civil conflict. First, it reviews competing definitions and operationalizations of state capacity, focusing specifically on those that emphasize (1) military capacity, (2) bureaucratic administrative capacity, and (3) the quality and coherence of political institutions. Second, it critically assesses these measures on the basis of construct validity, focusing attention on whether they accurately capture the theoretical concept of state capacity, and whether they allow the researcher to differentiate between competing causal mechanisms. Third, it employs principal factor analysis to identify the underlying dimensionality of 15 different operationalizations of state capacity. State capacity is characterized by low dimensionality, with three factors — or dimensions of state capacity — explaining over 90% of the variance in the 15 measures. While the first factor, rational legality, captures bureaucratic and administrative capacity, the second, rentier-autocraticness, and third, neopatrimoniality, capture aspects of state capacity that cut across theoretical categories. The article concludes by suggesting a multivariate approach to modeling state capacity, and that (1) survey measures of bureaucratic quality, and (2) tax capacity are the most theoretically and empirically justified.

The term state is interpreted as having many different meanings, all of which refer to the same concept. Max Weber defines a state as, “the organization that maintains a monopoly of violence over a territory” (O’Neil 28). That statement being somewhat confusing, many would just define a state as centralized power and authority. We have states because they are a set of institutions which carry out many things in order to establish order and policies within territories. It would not be possible to live without states because the protection, order, and security provided by states are needed.

If people tried to live without them there would be mass chaos and disorder and very little or no protection from inside and outside threats. If states were to disappear in the future, new strains of technology may replace them. With the way technology is evolving and changing it is possible that the same tasks being performed by states today can be performed futuristically by newer technology, and possibly in a more convenient way. Regimes are also an important component to the larger framework of a state.

The most important components that make up the regime of the United States are democracy and the government being that those foundations have a major role in establishing rules regarding collective equality and individual freedom. The formal written elements are things such as the constitution, state laws, taxes, and different policies that everyone must abide by. The informal and unwritten elements are things such as rules and regulations that may not necessarily be written, but everyone abides by the anyway because it is a part of the regime.

Traditional form of legitimacy is a good way to motivate and mobilize people in politics because it is introducing them to something traditional that they are already accustomed to. Comparatively, I feel as if charismatic legitimacy is not a good way to motivate people into politics because they have their own opinions on how they feel things should be or they feel the politics within their territory should function and not everyone is easily influenced by someone who may be charismatic. This is a good thing because people are known to stick with traditions because it falls within the norm but in relation to charismatic legitimacy, people want to be able to voice their own opinions without feeling “forced” into ideas from a specific leader.

The legitimacy within a country can directly influence the mix of capacity and autonomy. I feel as if the mix of autonomy and capacity in the United States is appropriate and well balanced. I feel the capacity is at an appropriate level but the autonomy could be lowered a little more so that the public can play more of a significant role in determining public policy, an even greater role than they play now. But if the mix was kept the way it is now, it still would be appropriate for the United States.

Personally, I live under a strong state and I know many would agree and say that we lie under a strong state because basic tasks are fulfilled, such as enforcing rules and rights, defending the territory against threats and potential harm, managing the economy, and collecting taxes that contribute to the economy. All of these tasks, just to name a few, are carried out with maybe minor issues but nothing too drastic which shows the state as being strong. It is neither too weak nor too strong. I feel it is far from weak, being that if our state was compared to a truly weak or failing state, there would be significant differences.

Also, I do not feel the state is too strong because it needs that added authority in order to help carry out those tasks that make it a strong state. Taxes would not get paid if there was no underlying force which aided in that process. Therefore, the state I live under is strong and has the right balance which does not make it seem too strong, which makes it something we can take pride in now and in the future.

Works Cited

  • O'Neil, Patrick H. "Defining the State." Essentials of Comparative Politics. New York: W. W. Norton &, 2012. 28. Print.

Leave a Comment


Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *