What Is the Force Theory of Government?

What Is the Force Theory of Government?
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  • 0:05 What is Force Theory?
  • 1:24 Elements of Force Theory
  • 2:24 Examples
  • 3:51 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: David White
In this lesson, you will learn about a method of establishing a new country or government through what is known as force theory. When you are through with the lesson, test your new knowledge with a quiz.

How to Define Force Theory

Think about where you live -- the country, the state, the province or county. What do you know about where it came from? There are several different ways that countries and states can take their shape and define their borders. Sometimes this is done peacefully or naturally when a group of people decide to work together to make a society function. More often, though, it is done through the use of force when one group becomes dominant over the others.

This process of establishing a new state or government through the use of force is what's known as force theory, which is also sometimes referred to as conquest theory. Force theory occurs when a person or a group of people take control of an area, such as a state, and make everyone in that area follow their rules and beliefs. For example, if you were to successfully invade Canada and make everyone in the country abandon their old ways and adopt my new rules, it would be a demonstration of force theory.

Although force theory is the way that most western countries have been formed, it is not the only way. An alternative to force theory is what is known as social contract theory, which is when a group of people living in the same area agree to follow certain rules and expectations in order for their society to remain stable.

Elements of Force Theory

While the two theories mentioned above are generally how states and countries take shape, they often unfold in different ways and can be identified by the presence of certain elements.

One important element of force theory is occupation by a foreign military or government. For example, when the German Army invaded France in 1940, they took control of the people and government through military occupation. This occupation was done with the intention of bringing France under Nazi governmental rule, but was overthrown by Allied forces in 1944.

During WWII, the German Army occupied part of France (shown in pink) with the intention of bring the country under Nazi rule.
Nazi France

Another important element of force theory is colonization, which is a process in which people from another country or area come into a new area and set up a community. Though colonization doesn't necessarily involve the use of force, historically it has led to the use of force.

Examples of Force Theory

There are several countries that have been established through force theory, but some of the most well-known are those in North America.

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