A distinction is often made in Political Science between the idea of the state and its conception. In the words of Bluntschly, “the idea of the state refers to a picture, in splendor of imaginary perfection of the state as not yet realized but to be striven for and the conception of the state has to do with the nature and essential characteristics of actual states.

” In simple words, the idea of the state is a perfect state complete in all respects as visualized through philosophical speculation. The conception of the state deals with com­mon essentials of the state such as population, territory, government and sovereignty.

Burgess further elucidates the diction by observing “the idea of the state is the state perfect and complete: the concept of the state is the state developing and approaching perfection. With progress of making and the development of the world, the two will tend to become identical.

” Every age has its different ideals of perfection. The ancient Greeks thought the perfected form of city-state to be the ideal. The 19th century was inspired by the idea of Nation state. Political philosophers of the modern world aspire for the establishment of a world state.


Points to Remember

The term state is used with great looseness and ambiguity. It has a definite meaning as a political concept. Varied and numerous definitions of the term state have been given.

All agree that the state must have four essential attributes, viz., Population, Territory, Government and Sover­eignty.

1. Population:


It is an essential physical basis of the state.

2. Territory:

Population alone does not constitute the state. There must be a definite territory. Territory is a great unifying force.

3. Government:


It brings about regulation and adjustment in the life of the people. It is the organization of the state. It acts as an agency through which the will of the state is formulated and expressed.

4. Sovereignty:

The term has been derived from Latin word ‘superanus which means supreme. A state is supposed to be supreme internally and externally.

(a) Punjab:


Punjab is a stale within the the Indian Union. As such it is not sovereign. So it is not a state in the technical sense.

(b) Pakistan:

Pakistan is a sovereign state. It is a republic and member of the Commonwealth of Nations. Moreover, Pakistan is a member of the U.f.O. It is a full-fledged state like any another state.

(c) U.N.O.:


It is an organization of independent states of the world. As it does not fulfill the essential attributes of a state it cannot be called a state in the real sense.

5. The Idea and the concept of the State:

The idea of the state refers to a picture of the state as not yet realized but to be striven for. The conception of state refers to the nature and essential characteristics of the state.