The term centralization refers to a structural principle for the identification of a social planning, which is organized centrally. In this general understanding centralism in opposition or as a complementary principle is understood to regionalism. In politics centralism means striving to concentrate all powers in the state at a central supreme instance. If this quest social reality, as the term also for the identification of characteristic structures of a political system, especially in regimens used. A form of expression is the centralism in a centrally organized unitary state ( central government ), which is characterized by an exclusive focus of political sovereignty at the national level. In religion, the term is used to describe centralist structures of the organization of church systems; in the economy for the identification of planned economies and centralized corporate structures.
A pattern picture for centralism excelled in the West in the formation of the church system in the Roman Catholic Church from. As an early pope, who urged the Roman centralism, shall Damasus I ( 366-384 ). To a formation of the Roman centralism, there was, however, in the early Middle Ages, when the church fell into dispute with the theocratic self-understanding of the Germanic kingship. On the basis of the solidarity of the churches with the political order and legitimacy of the feared problem given the " embrace attempts by kings and emperors in the individual countries," the state centralism was reproduced in the church system.
In the era of absolutism set itself against the medieval model of the association of persons State of the territorial state. In the earlier research, in the view " was often remained attached to the centers of power and their actors ", the centralism has been identified collectively as a characteristic feature of absolutism. Newer, more sophisticated research approaches emphasize, however - in addition to the centralized exercise of power of the monarchies - the political power of the estates and the regionalism of the elites. So " sized " approach to research are in highlighted the numerous conflicts between estates and princes, " which means always clearly understood in favor of the princes " are, and the corporative participation in various territories of the empire and smaller area countries (Sweden, Denmark). In the " regionalist " Research has shown that even the countless sovereign officials possessed a dense network of relationships with the regional elites. In this way, absolutism was in the provinces - at least in the major countries (Spain, France, Austria - Bohemia - Hungary, Brandenburg - Prussia) - can not be upheld " down ".
A history of ideas, important theoretical foundation received the centralist policy model of the monarchical absolutist state in the political philosophy of Thomas Hobbes. For Hobbes, who wrote his treatise Leviathan on the background of his impression of the English Civil War, no weight could be attached to the estate system as a form of political organization of the country and as an institutionalized counter-power against the monarchical rule. The Community should exercise political power - because of the field of view taken by Hobbes bad qualities of man - be entrusted instead by convention a man or a meeting, so that in this center the real unity of all representative. This approach was further developed later by the legal philosopher John Austin, who committed to the idea of indissoluble and illimitable sovereign power. Opinions expressed with these approaches thesis that state power will strengthened by centralization - and man protection and safety for the price of freedom get - playing in the theoretical and public discourse to the present day an important role.
In Europe, France is considered the quintessential example of centralism, which can be the beginnings to Louis XIII. , Richelieu and Louis XIV traced. The latter withdrew from the regional feudal lords of their political rights, so they were relegated to the courtiers of the king. After the French Revolution and the creation of the modern nation-state, Napoleon Bonaparte continued the centralized mindset. On the basis of the Jacobin centralist tradition won in France, the idea of a strong state, in which political and social changes can be enforced "top " down, an enduring importance. An image was political centralization of France in the transport infrastructure. Across the country, the roads are star-shaped geared to the capital, Paris. In contrast, decentralization ideas were implemented politically in the second half of the 20th century, which found their expression in particular in the establishment of various authorities.
Compared to France, the Empire in Germany could never win a similarly central position of power. The determining factor was the federative principle in Germany. Since the Frankfurt National Assembly of 1848 originally coined in the theology of Unitarianism term is used with a view of the unitary centralized state as well, which was coined as an antonym of federalist thinking. Since then, the term centralism a special place occupies in the federalism debate. Although in the 19th century, trained by the national movement nation-state Unitarianism could not displace the ideas and theories of federalism, however, centralized mindsets in this discussion are in the presence of still critically evaluated and found to be a particular feature of totalitarianism.
In the public discourse in the Federal Republic of Germany the term has lost centralism as a buzzword in the second half of the 20th century, a total of significance. In the German Democratic Republic, the term was not used as a slogan, but remained about the term democratic centralism in the present language. At the turn of the 21st century, the temporary explosiveness of the term centralism in the German dictionaries remained generally excluded.
In the centralized system theory approaches are questioned when they are flat rate used to describe modern societies. Based on the theoretical concept of functional differentiation stated the sociologist Niklas Luhmann that " theories of hierarchy or delegation or decentralization, the still expect a tip or center, today's facts can not adequately capture ". Although Luhmann conceded that a political system, the state organizations and the economic system can organize centralized, more or less, were, however, keep in mind that can be neither canalization of rivers still find general communication centralization of decisions. According to Luhmann deliver a theoretical approach, which reduces to the pattern of centralization and decentralization, no explanation for the interdependencies of the systems. The distinguishing criterion for the scientific analysis is rather how systems " to combine in accordance with its communication medium centralization and decentralization and try to increase both " up.