State Formation, Sovereignty, and
the Emergence of the
- Why did the “sovereign territorial state” emerge as the dominant actor in international politics?
- Why did empires and city-states fade?
- Why did sovereignty become the organizing principle in world politics, and not heteronomy of feudal period?
- Will the sovereign territorial state last?
States: “Coercion-wielding organizations that are distinct from households and kinship groups and that exercise clear priority in some respects over all other organizations within substantial territories” (Tilly, 1992)
- no mention of legitimacy
- no “monopoly” on the use of force, legitimate or otherwise
- not predominant in all respects
Sovereignty: no legitimate authority superior to ruler
Territorial: relating to physical boundaries (not by associational or ascriptive criteria)
Sovereign territorial state (STS): a state that is sovereign over a territory.
- no superior authority over state controlling defined space
- STS governs multiple, contiguous regions and cities via centralized, differentiated, and autonomous institutions (Tilly, 1992:2)
o empires often non-contiguous and lacked strong centralized or differentiated structures (tribute over taxation)
o city-states did not rule multiple regions
o city-leagues lacked centralized
Why did the STS prevail?
“War makes the state, and states make war” (Tilly)
- feedback between war-making and statemaking
- STS more effective at making war and obtaining wealth than other state forms
- Balance of capital and coercion
o States that balanced the accumulation and concentration of capital (wealth) and coercion succeed and drove out other types of states
o “Bargains” between coercion-wielding rulers, capital-controlling cities, and other groups (land-lords, merchants, peasants)
o urbanization crucial to success of STS – multiple cities inside states
Extension of STS System/Society
Feudal Period, 1000-1400
- reliance on tribute and vassals to wage wars
- Hundred Years’ War, 1337-1453
Emergence of Sovereign States 1400-1700
- Extensive reliance on foreign loans and mercenaries for war
o Thirty Years’ War, 1618-48
of the League of
‘Nationalization’ of STS, 1700-1850
- Increased reliance on domestic sources of money & manpower
o War of the Spanish Succession, 1701-13
o Seven Years’ War, 1755-63
o French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars, 1792-1815
o Latin American independence movements
- …political ideology in which nations should govern themselves; belief that the boundaries of the nation should be congruent with the boundaries of the state.
- Nations: ethno-cultural communities usually sharing common ancestry, language, and founding myths; ‘imagined communities’ (B. Anderson)
- basis for founding new states and legitimating old ones.
o ‘nations’ seeking states and states shape or create nations.
o Italian and German unification by 1871.
‘Specialization’ of STS, 1850-1950
- States separate external from internal security and civil from military roles
- rise of national welfare states
imperial expansion into
o World War I, 1914-1918
o World War II, 1939-1945
o Decolonization, 1946-1970
Globalization of STS, 1950-
- STS form adopted globally
- Rise of international organizations
- No direct war between great powers
o US-Soviet Cold War, 1947-1991
 Draws heavily on Tilly, 1992