The State

The chapter on “The Formation of the State”, in my opinion, seems very similar to the article on Place that west discussed in class last week. The first instance where I noticed the vast similarities was right off the bat when Painter and Jeffrey tried to define “The State”.

            Like Place, there is no concrete and set definition of “The State”. It too combines the aspects that it is a material thing, constructed through social process, a physical entity, and that it is always becoming. Another similarity I saw between place and “the state” is that it is a combination of layers from the past. Historical pasts have shaped both place and the state. The authors discuss how ‘The State’ has more little changes (piecemeal) rather than larger changes except for revolutions. But they state that even revolutions draw from the previous power of the state and that it has shaped the new power of the state.

            The material similarity is the use of boundaries and actual government buildings. Boundaries and “the state” are relatively new terms and concepts. Boundaries are now seen as vital to the success of the state because it projects where the power extends. The idea of statehood has overwhelmed to be the main goal for peoples in territories. Historically, boundaries were not as significant; the center of the territory was where the power of the state lies. This idea of boundaries has lead to a complex idea of territory authority. States claim rights to certain territories by the use of boundaries.

            In addition to the recent ideas of statehood and boundaries, the monitoring of the territory has also increased in importance. Although it is not absolute, it is still becoming a significant power in controlling or having the authority over a territory.

            As he proceeds to discuss the state, he mentions the state as being a formation of a social process. A big idea that was similar in the article about place. The individuals of the place or state are the ones who gives those terms meaning or power. He states, “The states power over us is actually working through us because our habits and behaviors that have been gradually shaped by the norms of the state.” This quote struck me because I feel like humans and the place and/or state are co-dependent and I really don’t know which influences the other. Humans may shape their environment/place to how they wish; yet the place can shape them. I feel like it is another “Who came first, the chicken or the egg?” scenario.

            Overall, I just felt like this chapter on state is the same as place, it seemed like the same article just a different term. Both are eclectic concepts that combine theories, materials, and social processes and they are still hotly debated and argued on. I feel the only difference is that the idea of “The State” just has more power/ authority behind it because the people of that place give it its power.

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