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Chapter Eleven. The Rise of the Modern Leviathan: State Functions and State Features

Jörn Leonhard

Subject History

Period 1000 - 1999 » 1800-1899

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405113205.2006.00015.x


From the end of the eighteenth century and against the background of both the French Revolution and the beginning of the industrial revolutions, the concept of the state underwent a fundamental change in Europe. Whereas classical authors of political theory such as Plato, Aristotle, or Hobbes concentrated on distinguishing the state from other types of human association like family, local community, or church, the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century witnessed a hitherto unknown distinction between state and society. Society, in this context, referred to the complex interactions between individuals who tried to satisfy their distinctive needs and interests, if necessary against the existing state authority. The idea of a homogeneous unity between state and society excluding conflict came under increasing pressure, and not only in political theory. During the French Revolution the politically self-conscious and socially influential part of the tiers état of French society proved to be capable of acting against the traditional state structures of the ancien régime . It was in the context of the French Revolution and its perception in Germany that Hegel for the first time warned against a confusion of state and “civil society.” For him, the state in its fullest sense and in its developed form (Hegel thought about the Prussian example of his own days) represented the manifestation ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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