SOC 104 Lecture Notes - Lecture 8: Video Lottery Terminal, Progressive Tax, Corporate Welfare

77 views12 pages
26 Jul 2016
Department
Course
Professor
Week 8
Chapter 8: The Role of the State
The state is a complex, organized political structure that carries out tasks required by
more complex societies as social inequalities become more extreme
The state is also a means of social control. It has a monopoly on the legitimate use of
violence
-State is often used interchangeable with government, but state is more than that
For most of society the means of maintaining social control or of handling relations with
external groups, for most of human history this was done informally
In foraging societies, political power tended to be loosely organized, with a pattern of
shifting leadership
-With an increase in surplus and the subsequent unequal allocation of resources,
increasingly formalized leadership developed
As agrarian societies with large surpluses and social class developed, more formalized
state structures arose
Along with the growth of the state apparatus, an ideology developed that supported and
legitimized such a structure
It is a bureaucratic system-different levels
-Goal is economic stability and to maintain capitalist system
-Force, power and violence is used to maintain that goal
The Separation of the Private and the Public Spheres
In agrarian societies, the owning class was in direct control of the state, which was used
to appropriate surplus from the producers. ex: an emperor could accumulate wealth
directly via various forms of tribute or taxation
The economic sphere is “privatized”-it comes under full and direct control of the
dominant class
At the same time, the social activities formerly carried out directly by the owning class-
that is, military, administrative, and legal functions-become transferred to the state, which
is in the public sphere
-The separate of the private and public spheres in capitalist societies is only partial
find more resources at oneclass.com
find more resources at oneclass.com
Unlock document

This preview shows pages 1-3 of the document.
Unlock all 12 pages and 3 million more documents.

Already have an account? Log in
The capitalist class gets to privately own and have control over most economic activity.
This gives this class enormous power over the productive process because it has the
capacity to organize and intensify production for its own immediate interests
-The negative consequences of its activities-pollution, poverty, unemployment-are
usually dealt with by government
Costs when running business: climate change, environmental damage, unemployment,
social inequality, poverty, reserve army
Private sector reps the benefits while the public picks up the cost of things
It is only the benefits of productive activity that are privatized in capitalist societies,
while the costs are transferred to the public sphere
-Costs: increasing taxes, social assistance programs to counteract the negative affects
ex: food banks, unemployment insurance
Understanding the Modern State: Two Views
Three levels of government: Federal, Provincial/ Territorial, municipal
Two dominant analyses of the state-reflecting the order and the change frameworks,
respectively-are the pluralist approach and the class approach
In the pluralist analysis, society consists of a variety of groups and associations with
highly diverse and often conflicting interests
-No single group totally dominants political structures
-A key function of the state is mediation between interest groups-workers, students,
First Nations, people with disabilities-trying to get their needs met within a given
society
-By balancing out the various interest groups, the state supposedly helps guarantee that
order is maintained, while ensuring that the overall best interests of society as a whole
are met
-The state has a high degree of autonomy, that is, the ability to act independently of
any single pressure group
-They recognize the greater power of big business relative to other interest groups but
do not see this as a problem because of its important role in the economy
-The state is a body that acts on behalf of society as a whole; it usually speaks of
“government” rather than “the state”
-The governments are, more or less, working on everyone’s behalf
find more resources at oneclass.com
find more resources at oneclass.com
Unlock document

This preview shows pages 1-3 of the document.
Unlock all 12 pages and 3 million more documents.

Already have an account? Log in
The class approach sees the state as an institution that acts primarily in the interests of the
dominant class
-The Canadian state is partially autonomous because the economic power of capital
also gives it political power
-The interests of others are not necessary met
-The state carries out three interconnected functions on behalf of the dominant class,
although the relative importance of each my vary in different socioeconomic
formations and even at different historical moments within a specific society
oAccumulation function: the state must try to create or maintain the conditions
for profitable capital accumulation
oLegitimation function: the state must try to maintain social harmony, mostly
by legitimating the current class structure and the right of the ruling class to
rule (making sure that everyone goes along with capitalism and sees it as
normal so they don’t challenge it) ex: education system and the media
oCoercion function: the state, when necessary, must use force to repress
subordinate individuals or classes on behalf of the dominant class
-The state is made up of a number of institutions, which can be classified into three
categories: repressive agencies (army and police, judiciary and the penal system),
government (administrative bodies such as parliament), government owned bodies
(education, health-care, postal)
Democracy in Capitalist Societies
Every state in capitalist societies must, to some degree, balance competing forces. One
way of increasing stability has been the acceptance of democratic political forms
The Meaning of Democracy
In its original Greek, democracy meant rule by the people
Democracy is not an absolute; rather it must be understood within particular social and
historical conditions
Some theories believe that capitalism furthered the democratic process. In some sense
that is true, as pre-capitalist societies tended to be dominated by authoritarian states
closely linked to a small and very powerful ruling class. Notions such as human rights,
elections do not normally exist in such societies
In capitalist societies, democracy has a very specific meaning, limited to the political
sphere rather than the economic one
find more resources at oneclass.com
find more resources at oneclass.com
Unlock document

This preview shows pages 1-3 of the document.
Unlock all 12 pages and 3 million more documents.

Already have an account? Log in

Get access

Grade+
$10 USD/m
Billed $120 USD annually
Homework Help
Class Notes
Textbook Notes
40 Verified Answers
Study Guides
1 Booster Class
Class+
$8 USD/m
Billed $96 USD annually
Homework Help
Class Notes
Textbook Notes
30 Verified Answers
Study Guides
1 Booster Class