The Spanish State and Its Relation with Society

Author: José Casanova

December 1, 1985

In "The Spanish State and Its Relation with Society," José Casanova uses Spain as a case study to explain several sociological theories about the state. Casanova rejects various Marxist, liberal, and pluralist theories on the state, as he claims that they all fail to recognize the state as an autonomous organization. He then claims that corporatism and structural-functionalism represent the extremes of statehood and do not fully capture reality. Instead, Casanova says the sociology of a state must be understood via its history. In Spain, for instance, Casanova points to two key factors that shaped the state: first, the Spanish monarchs, while powerful by themselves, failed to fully unite their country and build a modern state; and second, the Church stepped into the gap to provide many of the services that the government did not. Both of those, combined with the Spanish unwillingness to challenge the Church as most European states had done, led to a weak, decaying state with a strong central leader but a weak bond between the government and the population. Spain failed to be either an absolutist or bourgeois state, with no middle class, as work and wealth were both considered dishonorable. All of the factors led to Spain's relative and absolute decline compared to the other European states. This article was published in the journal State, Culture, and Society.

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