Difference between State and Association


The state is an association, but there are vital differences between the state and other associations.

1) The state is essentially a territorial organisation. The activities of a state are confined to its own territory. But other associations may not be con­fined to a particular territory. Associations like the Rotary Club or the Red Cross Society have a worldwide organisation. They are global in their membership and activities.

2) Membership of the state is compulsory. No one can escape the member­ship of the state, but the membership of an association is of a voluntary nature. A person may or may not become the member of any association. Its membership is acquired or given up by the free choice of an indi­vidual.


3) Individual may become member of any number of associations he likes, but he cannot be a member of more than one state at the same time.

4) The state is a permanent entity, while other associations may or may not be so.

5) An association is concerned with one or at bests a few specific interests of a particular group of persons. The state is a common association of all its citizens and is concerned with general interests common to the people as a whole.

6) Sovereignty is a differential element of the state. It distinguishes the state from other associations. The state possesses coercive authority by means of which it can compel the citizens to obey its laws. The citizens can be deprived of life, liberty or property if they violate the laws of the state. Other associations have no such supreme or coercive power to enforce their rules. The utmost punishment which other associations can inflict is expulsion.


7) The supremacy of the state over other associations is an established fact. It controls and coordinates the activities of all associations in society. It may or may not allow a particular association to exist.

Thus, the state is an all-pervasive, compulsory, permanent and theoretically an omnipotent association, while other associations are limited in their scope, procedure and functions. It is the state which upholds and enforces order amongst other associations within its boundary. The state therefore is truly called “an association of associations”.

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