State and Stateness

The state is an institutionalized social and political order and organization of hierarchical authority that is in exclusive control of the monopoly of law, monopoly of physical violence and monopoly of administration throughout a given territory and its inhabitants.

The state establishes a centralized governance structure through the political regime. The state-regime-nexus is an equiprimordial nested institutional complex. The regime is an integral part of the state, and the state is a definitional part of the regime. State and regime thus form a unit of governance. As the permanent manifestation of the political organisation of authority, the regime represents the state authority that uses and exercises this power through the state.

The state´s aggregated power rests on its ability to project and implement authority throughout its territory and to generate, maintain and execute law and legal order with hierarchical supremacy of formal state law. Furthermore, the state needs the infrastructural means necessary to govern the territory through bureaucracy and enforce its laws in view of resistance.

Stateness is the extent to which the state can exercise its authority throughout its entire territory and the people living within it, it entails the state´s quantitative and qualitative dispersion and penetration of the state territory and state population through state authority. Stateness as the performance of institutions denotes that a state can insert and uphold the laws enacted by the regime across its territory, possesses the means necessary to control both territory and populations and commands a bureaucratic infrastructure to implement and exert territorial sovereignty throughout the state territory.

Components: Monopoly of Law, Monopoly of Violence, Monopoly of Administration

The state´s monopolies include the state´s authority as the single entity to provide and apply law, violence, and administration. The state is the sole legitimate “producer” of stateness with the exclusive rights within these monopolies, depriving individuals, or groups within society of the authority to use physical force, establish and enforce rules or implement administrative structures.

Formal institutions legally construct a state through written rules and regulations that are implemented and enforced by the state. Formal institutions are positive law, adopted through the act of a legal body and the state is the legal regulator of the creation and implementation of the legal order. This includes state law, regulations and standing orders.


Monopoly of Law

The monopoly of law is an integral part of authority and the defining component of the state in connection with the state´s monopoly of violence and administration within a confined territory. The monopoly of law combines legislation and application of law and the state´s legal order. The state´s legal authority is a combination of impersonality and formality as well as the recognition of legality of normative rules and the right of those in power (“the state”) to issue commands and execute authority.

The monopoly of law connects to and establishes the state´s legitimate claim as the hierarchical supreme authority. The legitimacy of the state does not rest on normative conditions; rather it accentuates the legal-rational logic of order. Legality emphasizes how the state operates, that is through law and legal order. States and their legal systems exist together with democratic and autocratic regimes. To avoid a democracy bias, we use legal orders in a positivist understanding and not in the normative sense of rule of law, which has an inherent relation to democracy.


Monopoly of Violence

The state is an order and enforcer of power that is institutionalized into the permanent manifestation of authority. State power is authoritative power with coercive organizations to implement and enforce norms and rules enacted by the political regime. The monopoly of violence as the state´s expression of “ultimate control” rests in its prerogative to use physical force in and for the maintenance of its order. This includes the authority to undertake actions without negotiations with the subordinates. The state monopolizes the exertion of physical violence through its organisations (police, military) and means of violence that control and prevent civil violence and enforce state decisions and policies to maintain domestic order.


Monopoly of Administration

Institutionally, the state is "an administrative and legal order subject to change by legislation, to which the organized activities of the administrative staff, which are also controlled by regulations, are oriented" (Weber 1968: 55). By exerting administrative control, the bureaucracy of the state manages and allocates resources according to rules and criteria that are formally stipulated by law. The monopoly of administration is intrinsically connected to the territorial and societal dimension of stateness, to penetrate and permeate the territory and inhabitants. The monopoly of administration contains the organizational structures of the state, the territorial and societal reach, material resources and organizational competencies internal to the bureaucracy.


Logical Structure

The three monopolies are necessary dimensions of the state, i.e., they are necessary characteristics that are jointly sufficient. They are separate, but distinctive features that are not substitutable. The three dimensions are mutually constitutive, supporting and interlinked, consequently, all three dimensions provide necessary functions of the state to assert authority over inhabitants within the state territory that cannot compensate each other.

Conceptual Enrichment - Informal Institutions and the State

In a comprehensive understanding of the state, empirical cases are always a mixture of formal and informal institutions and practices, which together shape the specific appearance of the state.

In contrast to the formal (ideal) type of the state, the interaction between formal institutions and informality refers more to the real manifestation of the state. Informality in the realm of the state is not a separate concept, but a second layer that is an intrinsic element of the formal state institutions.

Informal institutions are “rules and procedures that are created, communicated, and enforced outside the officially sanctioned channels” that “are often as important as their formal counterparts in structuring the ‘rules of the game’” (Helmke and Levitsky 2006). In contrast to formal institutions, their authority is not based or originated from the state´s sovereign claim to the monopoly of law but evolves from the “power of the facts” as actual enforcement power of non-state actors and groups that enables them to legislate and enforce their own rules.

While the co-existence of formal and informal institutions can be beneficial (substitutive or complementary relation), we only include informal institutions that indicate a conflicting situation of formal and informal rules.


Two forms of informality: State centred and society centred Informality

State-centred informality is implemented within the state and executed by state agencies and officials top down. Powerful and relevant informal institutions that are generally binding and effective develop within the state institutions and are closely linked to state organs, e.g. state capture.

Societal-centred informality is a bottom-up process within self-enforcing and self-regulating spheres based on differing legal communities, either as a collective form of self-help or in active defiance to the formal state, e.g. militias or guerilla.