Reflection Activity

State ordering is, as the authors show, simultaneously very concrete – if your car is photographed exceeding the speed limit by a speed camera, the notification will duly arrive at your home address by post – but also abstract. The ideas behind state ordering can be elusive but it is just as important to explore and understand these as well as the visible manifestations.

The authors introduce a number of important and interesting concepts and, once again, we suggest that organising your notes in a grid will help to ensure you really think through each one. We’ve drawn up a table that lists the ideas and theorists associated with them (see Table 5.1). We’ve left most of the third column blank for you to fill in ways in which the unit explores these key ideas.

Section 4 is an extended case study of mural paintings in Northern Ireland. Case studies are often used in social science to illustrate and explore theoretical issues – in this instance, the case study is examining the changing links between state, territory and people. Try not to get too bogged down in the detail of dates, names, and so on, and remember why the case study is being used. While the case study is very much about how society is made and repaired, cutting across this is the theme of difference and inequality. You might find it helpful to divide your notes into two parts, one for the unionist/loyalist tradition and one for the nationalist/republican one. This should help you to see clearly the different and changing relationship of each to the state as the peace process has progressed.

Ideas of the state

Theorist’s name Idea How the unit explores and illustrates the idea
Painter ‘Everyday discourses of state actors’State presents its ideas to us officially and via the media. These versions may be challenged and critically reformulated: e.g. references to ‘nanny state’; dislike of health and safety regulations
A.J.P. Taylor Complexity of modern state since First World War People have had to become active citizens, with all areas of life subject to the institutions and actions of the state
Sharma and Gupta Bureaucratic practices and representations make an image of a coherent, unified and dominant state
Mitchell ‘The state effect’
Weber State claims monopoly of legitimate use of physical force within a given territory
Beetham Political legitimacy arises from:
1 legal validity
2 justifiability of rules in terms of local values
3 evidence of popular consent
Sen Democracy as form of political order that can’t nowadays be opposed
Barker Activity of legitimation rather than possession of legitimacyImportance of everyday state practices and how these may be contested. Change a constant factor even in apparently stable states
Hoffman State cannot possibly have monopoly of legitimate force, because of existence of ‘competitors’ (criminals, terrorists, etc.) who contest the claim