Gettel has said, “Political Science is the science of state”. Gamer has observed, “Political Science begins and ends with the state.” State is the central focus of Political Science. It plays an important role in the society. It is the most powerful and universal social organisation. It is a rare and incomparable organisation.
It is a political organisation. There is no definite historical evidence about its creation. It seems that with the creation of society consisting of man was the need of state felt. State links individuals to groups and organisations, and establishes balance and reconciliation between individuals and groups. It provides security to individuals and safeguards their rights.
With the passage of time, the role of state has undergone change. It is one of the basic instincts of man to lead a disciplined life. In this respect the state is of help to the individual. The laws and rules of state help in establishing order and discipline in the society.
As man’s nature forces him to live in a state, the state has been viewed as a natural institution. The state is regarded as a neutral, necessary and universal institution.
In common parlance, the word, ‘state’ is used in different ways. At times, it has been used as a synonym of ‘nation’, ‘government’, or society. The constituent units of a federation, in some cases, are also called states.
But in Political Science, ‘state’ has a specific meaning. To correctly understand the meaning of ‘state’, we may analyse different definitions of state.
In different times, the meaning and title of the word, ‘state’, have changed. In ancient times, Greeks used the word, ‘state’ in the sense of polis or city-state. Ancient Romans used the wordcivitas for ‘state’.
The city-states in ancient Greece and Rome were small, simple, and limited. In the first part of the sixteenth century, Machiavellie, an eminent statesman of Italy, was the first to use the word La Stato. In his view, state is a ‘power system’.
Towards the end of the sixteenth century, the French philosopher bodin called state a ‘republic’. He said that the state possessed sovereign power. In the seventeenth century, the British philosopher Hobbes argued that the state had unlimited power.
According to Aristotle, “The state is a union of families and villages and having for its ends a perfect and self-sufficing life by which we mean a happy and honourable life. Jean Bodin said, “A state is an association of families and their possession governed by supreme power and by reason.”
After this Thomas Hobbes, through his ‘theory of complete sovereignty,’ analysed the components of modern state.
Definitions of state have also been given by some eminent modern jurists and Political Scientists. According to Bluntschli, “state is a politically organised people of a definite territory.” Woodrow Wilson defined state as “a people organised for law within a definite territory.”
Burgess defined state as a “particular portion of mankind viewed as an organised unit.” Harold Laski defined state as “a territorial society divided into government and subjects claiming within its allotted physical area, a supremacy over all other institutions” Oppenheim said, “The state exists when a people is settled in a-country under its own sovereign government.”
According to Gamer, “The state is a community of persons, more or less numerous, permanently occupying a definite portion of territory, independent (or nearly so) of external control and possessing an organised government to which the great body of inhabitants render habitual obedience.”