Why the state?
The state is a faceless entity that is sovereign, which consists of institutions that govern the general population of a certain territory. This jurisdiction on a particular territory is practiced through different uses of power. First and foremost the state uses its power to legitimize its actions towards the population under it. It legitimizes all that is what the state think is good for the nation.
Pierre Bourdieu discusses these modern tendencies of the state, which was described in the elements before. Bourdieu (1994), stated that the State is “the culmination of a process of concentration of different species of capital...”(4). The culmination in this statement means that the state is the apex or highest form of a systematic institution.
This concentration of the use of power by the state is seen in its legitimizing tendencies. The state has this aptness to make something we do as something permissible or not. This high tendency of the state to have this institutionalization to the highest form makes way for the different species of capital to emerge. These species of capital are Physical Force, Economic, Informational and Symbolic.
These species are what makes the state inescapable for the population in a certain nation. For the first species, the state is the only entity that can use force in a specialized, particularized kind of action because they sanction them. In short, the state formalizes the use of force through military and police to maintain peace and order. If the state can’t do this, then the state is weak. The next species, the Economic, talks about how the state uses its power to levy tax for the State to use armed forces to perpetuate the peace on the nation.
Tax also imposes that the state has legitimate rule to the populous. The next species is Informational, which is always related to the Symbolic species of capital. Informational talks of the Theoretical Unification where everyone has the same perception of what is just and unjust, etc.
This totalization done by the state can be seen in the objective facts (The criteria we use; metric system, grading system, etc.). The Symbolic on the other hand, is used by the state to sanction and inculcate the vision and division. The state uses the information to universalize how we see and structure things. All in all, Bourdieu gave the state a clearer definition that deals with our modern tendencies. Also, it can be summed up that all the elements and species of capital pertain to this faceless entity that is concerned with the objectivity/subjectivity of our reality.
For me, the state is everything we know and everything we see around us. Everything that we own and see is owned by this entity. When we die, the state has the right to claim our possessions if there is no one who would. All the things we learned from school were sanctioned by the state. There was a universalization of the standards we use that was done by the state. When we eat, the state is there to impose tax on us. The state is always there. This concentration of tendencies that were mentioned can be seen in Pierre Bourdieu’s work. The species of capital can be seen in these instances.
As a student, the species of capital that is obviously observed in everyday life is the symbolic. This universality of knowledge and ideas are what affects the students the most. The students face the standardization done by the state. In simple instances, I cannot go against the criteria given by the state to take a certain number of units to be qualified as someone who graduated in college because the state has already sanctioned that standard. There are many manifestations of the state concentrating its tendencies to have a unified vision and division.
What is state-society theory? The dominant theories that we know of do not contain the state in it. What Barkey and Parikh want to show is a new theory trying to understand the state with relation to the society and its interests. Studying the society is very hard. It has a wide and varying set of subjects to be looked at to discuss how exactly does society go about.
Trying to explain Barkey and Parikh’s theory, the state with the society may take comparisons from the old theories presented by other people. These old theories, which were dominant, are the ones the state-society theory wants to move past from. The state-society theory would like to explain that there is a separation between the state and the society, unlike in the old theories where they are society centered and undermining the sense of state.
Comparing the dominant theorizations of the state with Barkey and Parikh’s theory can reveal the relationship between state and society. For example, the Weberian theory wherein the state exists because of its function to monopolize power can be problematic because of the possibility of the society to not recognize the legitimacy of the state. Just like one type of the state’s role in Eco Development, a weak state that can’t gain control of the strong society has a disorganized state and lacks institutions that help the society to be stable.
So the Weberian theory did not truly recognize the possibility of a weak state that is short of acquiring control over the people. It’s the same in the other dominant theories; they fail to recognize the separation between the state and the society. Knowing the separability of the two, we can now understand how they are attached/detached from the actions performed by the other. The relations of the state and society can be viewed in three perspectives; State as an actor, State and Society and State vs. Society. In the first perspective, we see the state as an entity that is capable of making decisions. These decisions made pragmatically by the state are not necessarily the interest of the society.
The next perspective deals on the equal footing of the state and society, cooperating to put forward a goal directed to the welfare of the whole. The last perspective tries to disclose that there is a struggle between the state and the society. These perspectives make way to the discourse on how the state-society relations are to be understood for us to discern the actions of the state. The actions of the state, from the perspectives, are not always geared toward the interest of the society. The state is rational and can make decisions for itself. The refocusing on the utilization of the state is what the authors wanted to do.
My theory of the state is that the state is formed by the culture of the society. The people representing the state brings their own culture that is deposited on them in their upbringing to the spotlight when trying to make decisions for the society. The upbringing of a person in a particular culture may affect the way he/she decides upon the welfare of the state and society. I say this because the Philippine state itself was a product of handed-down culture. The Philippine state is unique just like its culture. The state of this country is weak because of continuous corruption and deceit by the governing officials.
Because of this misconduct of the people in power, the society, though strong, is easily manipulated. This misconduct was acculturated in our way of life since the day of the election fraud in the Tejeros convention in Cavite where the first President was appointed. The state today is still the same state that started it all, deceitful. As a student, the state manifests in my life in various ways.
First and foremost, the state is the one that sanctions that what I will finish studying will be legitimate. So the control of the state gives students these better opportunities to those finishing a certain degree. I think the best way to be affected by the state is to have alternatives in viewing things. A change in perspective may soon change how the state progresses in this country.
Bibliography Bourdieu, P. (1994). Rethinking the State: Genesis and Structure of the Bureaucratic Field. Sociological Theory, 12(1), 1-18.
Barkey, K. and Parikh, S. (1991) Comparative Perspectives on The State. Annual Review of Sociology, 17, 523-549.