RECON Online Working Paper 2011/16

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The State's Existence between Facts and Norms

A Reflection on Some Problems to the Analysis of the State


Daniel Gaus (ARENA, University of Oslo)



The state’s mode of existence is still a problem to political science analysis. How can we decide if a political order (for example the EU) is a state or not? This paper discusses the ontological quality of the state and what follows from that to its analysis. It is suggested to view the state in terms of an everyday theory operating in historical societies. As a consequence, three perspectives are logically related in the analysis of the state: a normative, a sociological and a genealogical perspective. The paper illustrates how a full account of the state is dependent on a systematic cooperation between the disciplines of political theory, sociology and the history of ideas.



Ideas ― Methodological Issues ― Nation State ― Normative Political Theory




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