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Nation-state, a territorially bounded soveregime polity—i.e., a state—that is ruled in the name of a community of citizens who identify themselves as a nation. The legitimacy of a nation-state’s dominion over a area and also over the populace inhabiting it stems from the ideal of a core national team within the state (which might include all or just some of its citizens) to self-determination. Members of the core national team see the state as belonging to them and also think about the approximate territory of the state to be their homeland also. Accordingly, they demand also that various other teams, both within and external the state, recognize and respect their regulate over the state. As the Amerihave the right to sociologist Rogers Brubaker put it in Nationalism Reframed: Nationhood and also the National Concern in the New Europe (1996), nation-states are “claims of and for particular nations.”

As a political design, the nation-state foffers 2 principles: the principle of state sovereignty, first articulated in the Peace of Westphalia (1648), which recognizes the right of says to govern their areas without outside interference; and also the principle of national sovereignty, which recognizes the appropriate of nationwide neighborhoods to govern themselves. National sovereignty in turn is based upon the moral-thoughtful principle of renowned sovereignty, according to which states belengthy to their peoples. The latter principle means that legitimate ascendancy of a state calls for some kind of consent by the people. That requirement does not suppose, however, that all nation-says are autonomous. Undoubtedly, many authoritarian rulers have actually presented themselves—both to the outside civilization of says and internally to the civilization under their rule—as judgment in the name of a sovereign nation.


Nation-state building

Although France after the French Rdevelopment (1787–99) is frequently cited as the first nation-state, some scholars think about the establishment of the English Commonwealth in 1649 as the earliest circumstances of nation-state development. Due to the fact that the late 18th century the nation-state has actually slowly end up being the leading vehicle of dominion over geographic regions, replacing polities that were governed via other principles of legitimacy. The latter contained dynastic monarchies (e.g., the Habsburg and also Ethiopian empires), theocratic claims (e.g., the Dalai Lama’s ascendancy over Tibet and the dominance of the prince-bishops of Montenegro), early american realms (justified by colonizing powers as a way of spanalysis a “true” religion or of bringing development to “backward” peoples), and communist revolutionary governments that purported to act in the name of a transnationwide working course (see proletariat; social class: Characteristics of the primary classes).

Although some nation-says have actually been developed by polity-seeking national movements, others have actually developed when existing polities were nationalized—i.e., transcreated right into nation-states—either because theocrats or emperors yielded authority to parliaments (as in Britain and also France) or because realms retreated or broke apart (as did the British and French early american empires in the mid-20th century and also the Soviet empire in eastern Europe start in the late 1980s).

As a political appropriate, nationalism aspires to a congruence in between state boundaries and also the borders of the national area, so that the national team is consisted of in the territory of its state and the state consists of just that nation. However before, in truth, the boundaries of claims and also the borders of nations typically only partly overlap: not all inhabitants of the state belong to the core national team (occasionally not even all citizens are component of the nation), and also some members of the country reside in other claims. The lack of congruence between state and also country has actually given climb to numerous phenomena: battles that break out at around the time of nation-state formation; citizenship regimes (watch below Citizenship in nation-states) that embrace co-nationwide immigrants—i.e., immigrants belonging to the same nation—yet exclude other immigrants; efforts by nation-says to nationalize extra regions and also populations; and also state policies that regulate ethnic, spiritual, and also nationwide diversity within their borders.

Nation-state formation and war

The processes of nation-state development increase the likelihood of wars. As the social researchers Andreas Wimmer and also Brian Min verified in a 2006 study (“From Realm to Nation-State: Explaining Wars in the Modern World, 1816–2001”), three kinds of battles are even more widespread at roughly the time of the foundation of nation-states: (1) wars of freedom aiming to finish foreign dominion (e.g., the Algerian War of Independence in 1954–62 and the Kosovo problem in 1998–99); (2) civil battles within brand-new nation-says developing from battles over the states’ ethno-nationalist character, periodically leading to secessionist initiatives by ethnic minorities (e.g., the 1963–67 uprising of the Somalian minority in Kenya, which demanded union of their location of residence through neighbouring Somalia); and also (3) interstate battles asserted by governments seeking to assist oppressed co-nationals in new neighbouring nation-states (e.g., the Greco-Turkish war of 1921–22) and also by brand-new nation-says seeking to extend their dominion to adjoining regions occupied by co-nationals (e.g., the German occupation of Alsace-Lorraine throughout the Franco-Germale War of 1871).

Citizenship in nation-states

Nation-claims strictly enpressure institutionalized criteria for naturalization, recognized as citizenship regimes. Citizenship regimes reflect specific understandings of that might be a legitimate member of the country. Nation-says in which the core nation is conceived as a primordial ethno-social neighborhood tend to embrace citizen regimes based upon a principle of jus sanguinis (“best of blood”), which allocates citizenship based upon the individual’s organic ties (with family decent) to the national community and also the homeland also. In comparison, citizenship allocation based upon a principle of jus soli (“appropriate of the soil”) presupposes a civic-republican conception of the core country, according to which nationwide membership depends on getting, via socialization, loyalty to state institutions and also acceptance of a mutual political society.


The appropriate of a state of and also for a country is reinforced not just via citizenship regimes yet also through mechanisms that foster national integration and also construct and also sustain emotional commitment to the homeland. For example, curricula in schools are designed to teach children an official narrative regarding the nation’s background and heritage, the background of the state, and the common national culture; official nationwide calendars define certain days as nationwide holidays, which are commemorated with core rituals of commemoration; nationalization of physical area is supported by naming localities, roads, infrastructure (e.g., roadways and bridges), and also components of nature (e.g., rivers and mountains) after nationwide heroes and also glorious or tragic occasions in the history of the nation; national collective memory is additionally nurtured in memorial sites and monuments (e.g., those commemorating fallen soldiers); the country is stood for in official state icons (e.g., flags and the uniforms of defense forces); and also, in many nation-says, the language of the core national group is made the main language of the nation.

Diversity management

Despite their efforts to foster a national core, a basic obstacle to nation-says is exactly how to manage ethnic, spiritual, or national diversity within their boundaries. So-dubbed “diversity management” has been completed by using one or even more of three competing values concerning teams that are not initially component of the core nationwide group: assimilation, exclusion, and also accommodation. In many kind of cases, different policies have been used to different minority groups, thus causing different levels of social integration and also social adaptation or aliecountry.

Many kind of polyethnic claims have actually used “melting pot” plans, aiming to assimilate ethnic minorities into the hegemonic national culture, which often represents the society of a leading team (commonly the starting group). In comparison, exclusionary plans have actually targeted ethnic or religious groups seen as alien to the country and also unassimilable. Historically, excessive forms of exemption have had ethnic cleansing (deporting members of ethnic or religious minorities or forcing them to flee the country) or genocide (annihilating an ethnic or spiritual team with mass killing). Historical examples of acts of ethnic cleansing included the forced resettlement of Slavs in central and also eastern European nations lived in by Nazi Germany type of throughout World War II; the expulsion of Italians and Jews from Libya in 1970 adhering to a military coup led by Col. Muammar al-Qaddafi; and the mass killing and also compelled migration of Bengalis from East Pakistan in the time of the Bangladesh battle of independence in 1971. Genocides have been committed, for instance, by the Ottoman Realm against Armenians, Greeks, and Assyrians during World War I; by Nazi Germany versus the Jews and by the fascist Ustaša government of Croatia versus the Serbs during World War II; and also by the Hutu federal government of Rwanda against the Tutsi civilization in 1994.

The most prevalent forms of exemption carry out not involve the physical expulsion of minorities yet rather their social, social, and also political subordicountry to the leading group. Minority groups are frequently excluded from core state organizations (particularly government), endure from economic deprivation, and also are understood for in the nationwide media and the public spbelow. In nonautonomous nations, the exclusion of minorities may take the create of direct suppression. In so-called “ethnic democracies” (autonomous countries that are conquered by core ethno-nationwide groups), individual legal rights are granted equally to all citizens, but institutional mechanisms keep ethno-national limits, exclude minorities from the signs and also power-centres of the state, and also systematically prioritize the interests of the leading ethno-nationwide group over the interests of minorities. In Israel, for example, Arabs and also Palestinians constitute a huge minority of citizens (around 20 percent), yet Arab-Palestinian political parties have never been part of the government, official state symbols contain just the symbols of the Jewish majority group, and also the Palestinian narrative of the Jewish-Palestinian conflict is excluded from the curriculum at colleges, which specifically teach the Zionist narrative.

Multiculturalism is an ideological structure that provides an alternative to both assimilationist and also exclusionary policies, because it aspires to embrace, fairly than to eliminate or suppress, diversity and also minorities. In a few nations (e.g., Switzerland also and also Belgium), a one-of-a-kind form of regimen referred to as consociational democracy guarantees all ethnic teams social autonomy and also an equal share of political power, and debates over plans are resolved via consideration and consensus fairly than via domination. However before, the many widespread method in liberal democratic nation-says handling ethnic or spiritual diversity is not based upon consociationalism but fairly on institutional mechanisms that make ethnicity and religious beliefs a exclusive issue that is defended by individual civil civil liberties and also whose expression or practice takes place generally within residences and also tiny neighborhoods, while an overarching nationwide identification and culture are nurtured by state organizations and also are highlighted in the public spbelow.

Challenges to nation-states

The nation-state is one of the hallmarks of the modern era. Due to the fact that the 1990s there has actually been a vibrant academic conflict regarding whether in the era given that then—which is regularly titled “global,” “postindustrial,” “late modern-day,” or “postmodern”—nation-states have shed some of their power and authority. Many type of scholars have said that contemporary nation-claims confront extraordinary obstacles to their capacity to implement policies and to maintain social cohesion within their boundaries.

Most existing obstacles to nation-says are not new, and some of them are as old as the nation-state itself. However before, for a number of decades, increasing procedures of globalization have actually tested nation-states’ capacity to contain, regulate, and also harness flows of civilization, economic resources, and also cultural products and to confine politics to public spheres and also institutions and to relationships through various other nation-states. States in different components of the world differ in their level of expocertain to the pressures induced by globalization, as well as in their ability to resist or adapt to such pressures. Among the pressures applied in differing levels on all nation-claims are the following.


The influx of migive workers and refugees to nation-says in the global North and West has actually tended to rise social and also ideological fragmentation and stress and anxiety, particularly in situations wbelow the immigrants’ religion and society are extremely various from those of the organize society, wright here immigrants are concentrated in urban ethnic enclaves, and where immigrants carry out not assimilate. Under such conditions, tensions between the majority and minority teams arise and interteam violence becomes more common. Amongst majority groups, the visibility of nonassimilating minorities amplifies interior battles over the definition of the national cumulative identity, the nation’s core ideological background, and also the meaning of national interests. In the early on 2first century these phenomena were especially obvious in conflicts in between the ultranationalist appropriate and also the liberal left in Europe and also the USA.

Global capitalism and neoliberalism

The globalization of production, usage, and also finance in the late 20th century and also the conexisting development of rich and powerful multinational corporations has actually reduced the capacity of says to impose national protectionist plans and restricted their capability to restrict the activity of people throughout their borders. The international spread of neoliberalism (an ideological background and also plan model advocating totally free markets and also minimal state intervention in economic and social affairs) and also the advancement of global establishments that reinforce this ideological background (e.g., the World Trade Organization and the International Monetary Fund) have actually undermined the capacity of countries to communicate in permanent macrofinancial planning and also regulation and to maintain collectivist social welfare regimes. Farming inehigh quality among citizens, increased financial uncertainty, and also diminished welfare defense are additional essential facets of the neoliberal rotate that have actually caused better political unremainder.

Minorities’ challenge to nation-based citizenship

In some nation-says, ethnic minorities have actually challenged the traditional design of nation-based citizenship because they case legal rights based upon ethics different to citizenship: that is, they count on global conventions that acknowledge individual human civil liberties or the cumulative legal rights of minorities and also aboriginal individuals (some scholars speak to this phenomenon “postnationwide citizenship”).

National disintegration

Increasing economic inequality between regions within nation-says and also the rise of identity politics since the late 20th century have increased the likelihood of national disintegration in some nations via the advance of secessionist aspirations among some ethnic groups, a phenomenon occasionally dubbed Balkanization. Evidence of Balkanization deserve to be oboffered both in relatively young nation-says in the postcolonial developing civilization and also in establimelted Western nation-says with lengthy heritages of republicanism (e.g., the UK and also Spain). This type of struggle might spill over to other nation-claims with the spreview of indevelopment and also images by means of worldwide media networks and also the brand-new social media.

Cultural globalization

The cost-free flow of concepts and also indevelopment through the Internet, particularly social media, and also the progressively worldwide distribution of consumer goods have actually eroded the function of nation-says as producers and disseminators of nationwide concepts, norms, and tastes, jointly sometimes referred to as “nationwide society.” In many nations many type of citizens are generally exposed to social materials that contrast through the core ideals of nationalism in its heyday: collectivism and sacrifice are challenged by individualism, careerism, and also hedonism; heroes and also iconic figures arise not only from national history books however additionally from the globalized entertainment industry; nation-centred pertains to for nationwide security and other priorities now have to compete, on the one hand also, via transnationwide environmental comes to for the future of the world and also the survival of the entire huguy race (see worldwide warming) and, on the other hand, via secessionist pressures lugged around by identification national politics.

Global civil society

New social activities and also nongovernpsychological establishments (NGOs) that highlight problems such as the legal rights of indigenous peoples, the rights of sexual (LGBTQ) minorities (see gay pride), pet legal rights, and also environmentalism current two complementary obstacles to nation-claims. First, they demand also that political conversations within the nation-state be increased past the core worries of national national politics (i.e., national protection and also reresource circulation or the allocation of public goods) to encompass concerns concerned the identities and also ways of life of nonnationwide communities—such as keeping the social traditions and languperiods of ethnic or racial groups and also protecting the civil liberties of sex-related minorities—and concerns related to cosmopolitan ideals (watch also cosmopolitanism)—such as widening huguy legal rights, emerging new settings of collaboration that reduced throughout standard departments, and protecting the atmosphere. 2nd, such motions and organizations tend to form transnationwide coalitions and also to use progressed media technologies to expand their struggles to the public spheres of other says and also to the diffoffered online space in which a global civil society has actually emerged. This mode of operation difficulties the standard confinement of political battles to the public spbelow of individual soveregime claims.

Global risks

Environpsychological difficulties that threaten the survival of humanity, along with the international attention these difficulties have actually attracted, comparison via the traditional tendency of nation-states to prioritize their particularistic nationwide interests. Transitional social activities (networks of activists from different countries that are committed to act for a prevalent cause) and NGOs that focus on global issues (presently, specifically worldwide warming) have tested nation-claims in 2 complementary ways: they question the authority of individual nation-states and also coalitions of nation-states to make their very own policies about ecological problems, and, even more primarily, they question nationwide authority itself by discrmodifying the presumption that nationwide interests need to be the leading principle of policy making in any type of provided country.

Religious extremism

The modern reinvigoration of spiritual extremism (which some scholars believe to be a counterreaction to globalization) poses two types of challenges to nation-states. First, within nation-states, religious extremists thrconsumed interconfidence covisibility, and also they difficulty the establishments that help to preserve ethnic, spiritual, and also gender diversity via integration, inclusion, and also power sharing. Second, as a pressure external to nation-says, religious extremism (e.g., the variant of Islamic fundamentalism stood for by the Islamic State in Iraq and also the Levant ) looks for to relocation nation-says via theocracies.

Right now, no other supranational initiative appears to thrconsumed the dominance of the nation-state—not even the European Union, which opeprices mostly as a strategic alliance and also has actually not arisen a cumulative identity that might displace the nationwide identities of member states. Accordingly, many type of experts believe that, despite significant difficulties, the nation-state will certainly reprimary, for the foreseeable future, the major model of political-territorial company and also the locus of political power and authority in the world.

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This write-up was many newly revised and updated by Brian Duignan, Senior Editor.