Though in some respects, state and association are similar, there are also significant differences between them.
1. State, an Association of Associations:
Though the state itself is an association, it is also ‘an association of associations’. Man tries to achieve different goals through different associations. According to Gamer, Man’s membership of different associations to promote their social, scientific, religious, educational, political, economic and other interests is a distinguishing feature of modem time.
In fact, society/state is the connecting link of these associations. Therefore state has been called the ‘association of associations’.
2. Membership: Compulsory / Optional:
It is compulsory for individual to become a member of state. The membership of state is called citizenship. But it is optional for individual to join other associations; he may or may not join any other association.
At one time, one can become a citizen of one state only, but at that time he may join more than one association.
The state is a territorial association. It must possess a fixed territory. But other associations do not have territorial limits. Associations like the Red Cross Society operate across the world.
State is a permanent association. A state is rarely dissolved. Most of other associations are temporary, and they may be dissolved after achieving their specific objectives. They may also be dissolved as a result of internal conflicts or external occupation.
A state is a large association with a vast territory. It aims at many things, and performs many functions. But other associations have some specific purposes or objectives. Thus, they perform limited functions.
The state is sovereign, but other associations are not. All citizens and other associations are bound to obey the state; they are bound by its laws and rules.
The state controls other associations. Other associations cannot compel their members into submission. Their power of punishment is limited.
Associations grow out of the needs of time. There is a need for intermediate agencies like associations to bridge the gap between the individual and the distant state apparatus.
They are nearer to individual. Sometimes associations are created by state, and they need state’s permission for their formation and functioning which lends them legitimacy.
The state takes care of the wellbeing of all people living within its territory, but other associations look after the wellbeing of its members and those who are covered by its objectives and programmes.
Though the state is sovereign and vary powerful, it should not unduly interfere in the affairs of other associations. The state should view other associations with sympathy and toleration. It coordinates as well as regulates other associations.
The state allows freedom and autonomy to the numerous associations which emerge spontaneously to fulfill various needs of individuals. The state coordinates and controls the activities of various associations.
It adjusts and regulates the relationship among various associations. The state is rightly described as an ‘association of associations’.