Skip to main content
eScholarship
Open Access Publications from the University of California

Coming and Going: On the State Monopolization of the Legitimate Means of Movement

Abstract

This article undertakes four tasks. First, I show how and why states have sought to monopolize the "legitimate means of movement" -- that is, to gather into their own hands the exclusive right to authorize and regulate movement. Next, I argue that the processes involved in this monopolization force us to re-think the very nature of modern states as they have been portrayed by the dominant strands of sociological theories of the state. In particular, I seek to show that the notion that states "penetrate" societies over time fails adequately to capture the nature of state development, and argue instead that we would do better to regard states as "embracing" their citizenries more successfully over time. Then, I analyze the development of modern states as nation-states and demonstrate the corresponding need for states to identify unambiguously who belongs and who does not-in order to "embrace" their members more effectively and to exclude unwanted intruders. Finally, I discuss the nature and legal implications of the various documentary systems that undergird and make possible both states' embrace of individuals and the monopolization of the means of legitimate movement by states and the international state system: (external or international) passports, internal passports ("passes"), and ID cards.

Main Content
Current View