Rather like the air we breathe, states are organisations that surround us as individuals, infl uencing, and in many ways, offering sustenance to the lives we lead. Similar to the air we breathe, states are also organisations that often lie beyond the limits of our critical refl ection. We may question the priorities of political parties; we may also disagree with the policies implemented by various governments. We do not often question, however, the character of the organisation that political parties, while in government, seek to govern. In other words, we rarely think about what states actually are, how they are constituted, how they come into being and how they change over time. These are some of the questions concerning the form of the state that we will ask, and ultimately seek to answer, in this chapter.