The State: A Critique

  • John Urry
Part of the Contemporary Social Theory book series


It is now commonplace to note that Marx did not provide a general, well-articulated theory of the capitalist state. There are rather a number of different texts in which he (and/or Engels) makes reference to the state in capitalist societies. We can, at the cost of considerable simplication, classify these into the following approaches:1 the state as a parasite, as the private property of state officials;2 the state as mystification, while apparently representing general interests of the society, in fact representing specific interests;3 the state as the reflection of the economic base responding to, and hence facilitating, the developing forces of production;4 the state, as a set of essentially repressive institutions, which function as the instrument of class rule;5 the state as a social regulator moderating and channelling the struggles between classes, in cases through suppressing the interests of specific capitalists;6 and the state as an ideal collective capitalist standing alongside capital and sustaining its pattern of accumulation.7


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Copyright information

© John Urry 1981

Authors and Affiliations

  • John Urry
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of SociologyUniversity of LancasterUK

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