What is the Population in Political Science?

What is the population in political science?

The necessity of People: The state, as is pointed out in the previous article, may be viewed as both a concrete thing and an abstract idea. Envisaged in concreto it is a human group or association; viewed in the abstract it is a corporation possessing a juristic personality.

The concrete state composed of land and people is not the same thing as the state considered as an abstract idea, any more than a thing is identical with its qualities, for example, a railroad and the corporation which owns and directs its Operation. The state is composed, therefore, of both physical and metaphysical or spiritual elements.

These elements are:

  •  A group of human beings
  • A territory upon which they permanently reside
  • Internal sovereignty and independence of foreign control
  • A political organization or agency through which the collective will of the population is expressed and enforced.

In addition, the state possesses certain attributes or characteristics which can hardly be regarded as constituent elements. Students of political science should avoid, however, confusing the state with its elements of certain of them.

The state is neither the people nor the land upon which. they reside, nor the government which formulates and executes the will of the state. Confusion of the state and the government, especially, is very common and it has been a frequent cause of misunderstanding and error. The physical element of the population is manifestly an absolute necessity to the existence of a state. It is impossible to conceive of a state without people. Without them, there could be no functionaries to govern and no subjects to be governed.

The People Viewed as Citizens and Subjects of the State:-

The population of the state must be envisaged from a double point of view: first, as citizens, that is, as members of the state and entitled to the privileges which How therefrom; and, second, as the subjects of the power and action of the state, that is, as the persons to whom its commands and injunctions are addressed. Rousseau viewed the members of the state in a double capacity, that is, as “active” citizens participating in the formulation of the general will and, at the same time, as “subjects,” bound by the laws Of the state.

In a certain sense, the possession of the quality of citizen is not essential to membership in the state. Since as a matter of fact there are to be found in every state-certain classes of persons who, while not citizens, are accorded the protection of the state and enjoy its benefits. The possession of citizenship, however, is the normal condition of full membership, and in practice, most states require it as a condition to the exercise of political privileges and even to the enjoyment of full civil rights.

Number of People Necessary to Form a State:-

How numerous must be the population in order that it may be properly regarded as a state when the other essential elements are present? Some early writers undertook to lay down certain general principles that should determine the number of people necessary to the existence of a state, and some even went to the length of suggesting the minimum and the maximum number of inhabitants.

Aristotle was clearly of the opinion that there ought to be a limit, and he laid down the general principle that the number should be neither too small nor too large; it should, he said, be large enough to be self-sufficing and small enough to be well-governed.

Rousseau, likewise, considered the matter of numbers to be important. He asserted that a political body may be measured in two ways. By the extent of its territory and by the number of its people, and that there should be a suitable relation between the two.

The territory, he said, should be sufficient in extent for the maintenance of the population, and there should be as many inhabitants as the land could sustain. Apparently he also meant to assert that the population should not be in excess of the number which the land was capable of supporting.

He admitted, however, that it was impossible to express numerically a fixed ratio between the extent of territory and the number of inhabitants which it should contain, owing to the differences in the fertility of the soil and the nature of the climate. Manifestly, it would be futile to attempt to lay down any precise rule as to the maximum or a minimum number of inhabitants of which a state should be composed.

In fact, the populations of existing. states range all the way from a few thousand, as in Monaco and San Marino, to hundreds of millions, as in Russia and China. About all that can be said ix that the population must be sufficient in number to maintain a state organization and that it ought not to be greater than the territorial area and resources of the state are capable of supporting.

Duguit maintains, what is perfectly obvious, that the population must be sufficient to make possible differentiation between those who govern and those who are governed. While Hauriou asserts what is equally obvious, that it must be sufficient to make possible a distinction between public and private affairs.