What Are The Functions Of The State

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What Are The Functions Of The State Essay, Research Paper The state plays a crucial part in society today and is central to the study of economic and political geography. In order to define the functions of a state, it is at first necessary to define the `state’ and what it, in itself represents. Collins Concise English Dictionary (Third Edition-1992) interprets the state as, “…a sovereign political power or community…” or “…the body politic of a particular sovereign power…” In short, the state is seen as being the governing body of a nation exerting supreme and unrestricted power over its people, within a designated area. In a capitalist system the term ‘government’ is applied to the elected officials in charge of the state and its functions. A state

can also be one of a number of areas or communities having their own governments and forming a federation under a sovereign government, as in the United States. Academics, politicians and political commentators, to name a few, have studied the nature of the state, and theories have been developed over time explaining its functions. These various philosophies suggest that the state performs at least one of the six following duties. The first presents the state as a protective entity, that is, acting as a protector for the members of its nation. These can be physical, economic and social functions such as restrictions on immigration or the introduction of tariffs and duties. This protective function also forms a safeguard over its members from each other as punishment for crimes

and crime prevention. Finally under the title, `state as a protector’, comes the `welfare state’ which protects its members who have been economically and/or socially hurt through no fault of their own. This incorporates government payments to the unemployed and the sick,eg.income support in the U.K. The second duty displays the state as an arbitrator, that is, it acts as a third party in disputes where an agreement cannot be reached between two parties alone. Along such lines there are marital disputes where decisions about property and children have to be determined. The state, in order to make these decisions, sets up various organizations and institutions where agreements can be made, for example marriage guidance or legal counselling. The third task a state habitually

performs is that of a uniting one. A cohesive force acts in creating unity throughout the state and thus providing a focus for individuals to accept. As explained earlier, disagreements are endemic in human societies and institutions, however small. Such disputes could lead to state fission or the break up of the societies structure. This possible segmentation can be intercepted by the state which can integrate the conflicting elements into a united body, via nationalistic and patriotic feeling. Fourthly, the state holds a position of being a facilitator to the development of its territory and nation. In modern society, social and economic interaction must take place via two forms. The first being physical infrastructure such as roads, railways and transmission lines. The second

being institutions which assist people in society such as finance houses and insurance underwriters. An increasing proportion of this infrastructure is being supplied by the state-thus providing security for the economic operations of its society. (The majority of the remainder of the infrastructure is provided by firms in the private sector.) The penultimate task a state performs is that of an investor. For a country to survive and keep up pace with the rest of the world, avoiding economic and social problems, firms in the private sector must continually try to increase productivity and sales. Investment in people, ideas and plant, via the state, is the way in which they go about this. The state provides the education system for the people; financial resources for research and