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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 recognize themselves as a nation. The legitimacy of a nation-state’s preeminence over a region and over the populace inhabiting it stems from the appropriate of a core national group within the state (which might incorporate all or only some of its citizens) to self-determicountry. Members of the core national group see the state as belonging to them and also take into consideration the approximate territory of the state to be their homeland. Accordingly, they demand that various other teams, both within and outside the state, recognize and respect their control over the state. As the Amerihave the right to sociologist Rogers Brubaker put it in Nationalism Reframed: Nationhood and also the National Inquiry in the New Europe (1996), nation-claims are “states of and also for particular countries.”

As a political version, the nation-state fsupplies 2 principles: the principle of state sovereignty, initially articulated in the Peace of Westphalia (1648), which recognizes the best of says to govern their territories without outside interference; and the principle of nationwide sovereignty, which recognizes the ideal of national areas to govern themselves. National sovereignty in turn is based on the moral-philosophical principle of popular sovereignty, according to which claims belengthy to their individuals. The latter principle indicates that legitimate preeminence of a state calls for some sort of consent out by the civilization. That necessity does not mean, but, that all nation-says are democratic. Indeed, many type of authoritarian rulers have presented themselves—both to the exterior world of states and also internally to the people under their rule—as ruling in the name of a soveregime country.


Nation-state building

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

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

As a political appropriate, nationalism aspires to a congruence in between state borders and the boundaries of the national neighborhood, so that the national team is included in the territory of its state and the state includes just that country. However, in reality, 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 group (periodically not even all citizens are part of the nation), and some members of the nation reside in other states. The lack of congruence between state and also nation has actually provided increase to a number of phenomena: battles that break out at approximately the time of nation-state formation; citizenship regimes (check out below Citizenship in nation-states) that take on co-national immigrants—i.e., immigrants belonging to the exact same nation—but exclude various other immigrants; efforts by nation-claims to nationalize additional regions and also populations; and also state policies that manage ethnic, religious, and national diversity within their borders.

Nation-state development and also war

The procedures of nation-state development boost the likelihood of battles. As the social scientists Andreas Wimmer and also Brian Min confirmed in a 2006 examine (“From Realm to Nation-State: Explaining Wars in the Modern World, 1816–2001”), 3 types of wars are even more common at roughly the time of the foundation of nation-states: (1) battles of independence aiming to end foreign preeminence (e.g., the Algerian War of Independence in 1954–62 and the Kosovo dispute in 1998–99); (2) civil battles within new nation-claims emerging from battles over the states’ ethno-nationalist character, periodically leading to secessionist efforts by ethnic minorities (e.g., the 1963–67 upincreasing of the Somalian minority in Kenya, which demanded union of their area of residence through neighbouring Somalia); and (3) interstate wars claimed by federal governments seeking to aid oppressed co-nationals in new neighbouring nation-says (e.g., the Greco-Turkish battle of 1921–22) and by new nation-states seeking to extend their dominance to neighbouring territories populated by co-nationals (e.g., the Germale conquest of Alsace-Lorraine in the time of the Franco-Gerguy War of 1871).

Citizenship in nation-states

Nation-claims strictly enforce institutionalized criteria for naturalization, known as citizenship regimes. Citizenship regimes reflect particular understandings of who may be a legitimate member of the country. Nation-claims in which the core country is conceived as a primordial ethno-cultural neighborhood tend to take on citizen regimes based on a principle of jus sanguinis (“right of blood”), which allocates citizenship based upon the individual’s organic ties (via family decent) to the national area and the homeland also. In contrast, citizenship allocation based on a principle of jus soli (“right of the soil”) presupposes a civic-republican conception of the core country, according to which national membership counts on acquiring, with socialization, loyalty to state institutions and acceptance of a mutual political culture.


The right of a state of and also for a nation is reinrequired not only through citizenship regimes but also via mechanisms that foster nationwide integration and build and also sustain emotional commitment to the homeland also. For instance, curricula in schools are designed to teach children an main narrative about the nation’s history and heritage, the background of the state, and the shared nationwide culture; official nationwide calendars specify particular days as nationwide holidays, which are commemorated via core rituals of commemoration; nationalization of physical room is supported by naming localities, streets, framework (e.g., roadways and also bridges), and components of nature (e.g., rivers and also mountains) after nationwide heroes and glorious or tragic occasions in the history of the nation; nationwide collective memory is additionally nurtured in memorial sites and monuments (e.g., those commemorating fallen soldiers); the country is represented in official state icons (e.g., flags and also the unicreates of security forces); and also, in many kind of nation-says, the language of the core nationwide team is made the official language of the country.

Diversity management

In spite of their initiatives to foster a nationwide core, a fundamental challenge to nation-claims is how to regulate ethnic, spiritual, or nationwide diversity within their boundaries. So-called “diversity management” has actually been completed by applying one or even more of 3 contending principles regarding teams that are not initially part of the core national group: assimilation, exclusion, and also accommodation. In many situations, different policies have been used to different minority teams, therefore causing different levels of social integration and social adaptation or aliecountry.

Many kind of polyethnic says have applied “melting pot” policies, aiming to assimilate ethnic minorities into the hegemonic nationwide culture, which frequently represents the society of a dominant team (typically the founding group). In contrast, exclusionary plans have actually targeted ethnic or spiritual groups seen as alien to the country and unassimilable. Historically, too much forms of exclusion have contained ethnic cleansing (deporting members of ethnic or spiritual minorities or forcing them to flee the country) or genocide (annihilating an ethnic or religious group with mass killing). Historical examples of acts of ethnic cleansing included the required renegotiation of Slavs in main and eastern European countries inhabited by Nazi Germany in the time of World War II; the expulsion of Italians and also Jews from Libya in 1970 complying with a army coup led by Col. Muammar al-Qaddafi; and also the mass killing and compelled migration of Bengalis from East Pakistan in the time of the Bangladesh battle of freedom in 1971. Genocides have been committed, for instance, by the Ottomale Realm against Armenians, Greeks, and also Assyrians during World War I; by Nazi Germany type of against the Jews and by the fascist Ustaša federal government of Croatia versus the Serbs throughout World War II; and also by the Hutu government of Rwanda against the Tutsi world in 1994.

The the majority of widespread kinds of exemption perform not involve the physical expulsion of minorities but fairly their social, cultural, and political subordicountry to the leading team. Minority groups are often excluded from core state organizations (particularly government), suffer from economic deprivation, and are understood for in the national media and the public spbelow. In nondemocratic nations, the exemption of minorities may take the create of direct suppression. In so-called “ethnic democracies” (autonomous nations that are dominated by core ethno-national groups), individual civil liberties are granted equally to all citizens, but institutional mechanisms preserve ethno-national boundaries, exclude minorities from the symbols and power-centres of the state, and systematically prioritize the interests of the leading ethno-nationwide group over the interests of minorities. In Israel, for example, Arabs and Palestinians constitute a large minority of citizens (about 20 percent), yet Arab-Palestinian political parties have never before been component of the government, main state signs contain only the icons of the Jewish majority team, and the Palestinian narrative of the Jewish-Palestinian conflict is excluded from the curriculum at colleges, which exclusively teach the Zionist narrative.

Multiculturalism is an ideological structure that provides an different to both assimilationist and also exclusionary plans, bereason it aspires to embrace, quite than to get rid of or suppush, diversity and minorities. In a few countries (e.g., Switzerland also and also Belgium), a one-of-a-kind type of program dubbed consociational democracy assures all ethnic groups cultural autonomy and an equal share of political power, and also debates over plans are addressed with consideration and consensus quite than via domination. However, the most prevalent method in liberal autonomous nation-claims taking care of ethnic or religious diversity is not based on consociationalism yet rather on institutional mechanisms that make ethnicity and also religion a exclusive matter that is protected by individual civil rights and whose expression or exercise takes place mostly within residences and little neighborhoods, while an overarching national identity and also society are nurtured by state establishments and also are highlighted in the public sphere.

Challenges to nation-states

The nation-state is among the hallmarks of the contemporary era. Due to the fact that the 1990s tbelow has been a colorful academic controversy about whether in the era given that then—which is frequently titled “international,” “postcommercial,” “late modern-day,” or “postmodern”—nation-says have actually shed some of their power and also authority. Many type of scholars have said that contemporary nation-claims face unprecedented challenges to their capacity to implement policies and to preserve social cohesion within their borders.

Most existing challenges to nation-states are not brand-new, and some of them are as old as the nation-state itself. However before, for several decades, speeding up procedures of globalization have actually challenged nation-states’ capacity to contain, regulate, and harness flows of people, financial capital, and social materials and to confine national politics to public spheres and also organizations and also to relationships via other nation-states. States in different components of the people vary in their level of expocertain to the pressures induced by globalization, and also in their capacity to withstand or adapt to such pressures. Amongst the pressures imposed in varying levels on all nation-states are the complying with.


The influx of miprovide employees and also refugees to nation-claims in the worldwide North and West has tended to increase cultural and ideological fragmentation and tension, particularly in situations where the immigrants’ faith and also society are incredibly different from those of the hold society, wbelow immigrants are concentrated in city ethnic enclaves, and where immigrants execute not assimilate. Under such conditions, tensions between the majority and minority teams arise and interteam violence becomes more widespread. Amongst majority groups, the presence of nonassimilating minorities amplifies inner struggles over the meaning of the nationwide cumulative identification, the nation’s core belief, and the meaning of nationwide interests. In the early on 2first century these sensations were specifically apparent in conflicts in between the ultranationalist right and also the liberal left in Europe and the USA.

Global capitalism and neoliberalism

The globalization of production, usage, and finance in the late 20th century and the conexisting expansion of wealthy and also effective multinational corporations has actually reduced the capacity of states to impose national protectionist policies and restricted their ability to restrict the movement of world across their boundaries. The worldwide spcheck out of neoliberalism (an belief and policy model advocating totally free markets and also minimal state treatment in economic and also social affairs) and also the advancement of worldwide institutions that reinpressure this ideological background (e.g., the World Trade Organization and also the Internationwide Monetary Fund) have undermined the capacity of countries to communicate in long-term macroeconomic planning and regulation and also to preserve collectivist social welfare regimes. Cultivation inequality among citizens, enhanced economic uncertainty, and also reduced welfare security are extra vital elements of the neoliberal revolve that have resulted in better political unrest.

Minorities’ difficulty to nation-based citizenship

In some nation-claims, ethnic minorities have actually tested the traditional design of nation-based citizenship because they insurance claim legal rights based on values alternate to citizenship: that is, they depend on global conventions that identify individual humale civil liberties or the collective civil liberties of minorities and also indigenous individuals (some scholars contact this phenomenon “postnational citizenship”).

National disintegration

Increasing economic inetop quality between regions within nation-claims and also the climb of identification politics given that the late 20th century have boosted the likelihood of nationwide disintegration in some countries with the advance of secessionist aspirations among some ethnic teams, a phenomenon periodically dubbed Balkanization. Evidence of Balkanization deserve to be oboffered both in fairly young nation-claims in the postcolonial developing world and in established Western nation-states with long legacies of republicanism (e.g., the UK and Spain). This kind of battle might spill over to other nation-says through the spcheck out of information and also imperiods using global media channels and the brand-new social media.

Cultural globalization

The complimentary circulation of principles and information through the Internet, specifically social media, and also the significantly international circulation of consumer items have eroded the duty of nation-says as producers and also disseminators of national principles, standards, and also tastes, collectively periodically referred to as “nationwide society.” In many countries many type of citizens are commonly exposed to social materials that contrast via the core ideals of nationalism in its heyday: collectivism and also sacrifice are tested by individualism, careerism, and also hedonism; heroes and also iconic numbers arise not just from nationwide history books but likewise from the globalized entertainment industry; nation-centred pertains to for nationwide defense and other priorities now should compete, on the one hand also, through transnational eco-friendly pertains to for the future of the planet and also the survival of the entire huguy race (see international warming) and also, on the various other hand, with secessionist pressures carried about by identification politics.

Global civil society

New social movements and also nongovernpsychological institutions (NGOs) that highlight concerns such as the civil liberties of aboriginal peoples, the legal rights of sex-related (LGBTQ) minorities (see gay pride), animal civil liberties, and also environmentalism current 2 complementary challenges to nation-says. First, they demand that political conversations within the nation-state be broadened past the core concerns of nationwide politics (i.e., national security and also reresource circulation or the alarea of public goods) to include concerns regarded the identities and also methods of life of nonnationwide communities—such as maintaining the cultural legacies and languages of ethnic or racial teams and also protecting the legal rights of sexual minorities—and worries concerned cosmopolitan ideals (watch also cosmopolitanism)—such as broadening huguy rights, developing brand-new settings of teamwork that reduced throughout traditional departments, and also protecting the setting. 2nd, such movements and also establishments tfinish to create transnational coalitions and to use progressed media innovations to expand also their battles to the public spheres of other says and to the diffsupplied digital space in which a global civil society has actually arised. This mode of operation challenges the conventional confinement of political battles to the public spbelow of individual soveregime states.

Global risks

Environpsychological problems that thrconsumed the survival of humankind, together with the worldwide attention these troubles have actually attracted, contrast with the standard tendency of nation-states to prioritize their particularistic nationwide interests. Transitional social motions (netfunctions of activists from various countries that are committed to act for a prevalent cause) and NGOs that emphasis on worldwide problems (presently, specifically global warming) have challenged nation-claims in 2 complementary ways: they question the authority of individual nation-claims and also coalitions of nation-states to make their very own policies about ecological problems, and, even more generally, they question nationwide authority itself by discrediting the assumption that nationwide interests should be the leading principle of plan making in any kind of provided country.

Religious extremism

The contemporary reinvigoration of religious extremism (which some scholars believe to be a counterreactivity to globalization) poses two forms of difficulties to nation-says. First, within nation-says, spiritual extremists threaten interbelief coexistence, and they obstacle the organizations that assist to preserve ethnic, religious, and also sex diversity via integration, inclusion, and power sharing. Second, as a pressure outside to nation-claims, religious extremism (e.g., the variant of Islamic fundamentalism represented by the Islamic State in Iraq and also the Levant ) seeks to relocation nation-claims via theocracies.

At this time, no various other supranational initiative appears to thrconsumed the supremacy of the nation-state—not also the European Union, which operates mainly as a strategic alliance and also has not emerged a cumulative identification that might disarea the national identities of member states. Accordingly, many experts think that, despite notable obstacles, the nation-state will certainly reprimary, for the foreseeable future, the primary design of political-territorial organization and the locus of political power and also authority in the human being.

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This post was most recently revised and also updated by Brian Duignan, Senior Editor.