Nation state

Portrait of "The Ratification of the Treaty of M√ľnster", one of the treaties leading to the Peace of Westphalia, where the concept of the "nation state" was born.

A nation state is a state in which the great majority shares the same culture and are conscious of it. The nation state is an ideal in which cultural boundaries match up with political ones.[1] According to one definition, "a nation state is a sovereign state of which most of its subjects are united also by factors which defined a nation such as language or common descent."[2] It is a more precise concept than "country", since a country does not need to have a predominant ethnic group.

A nation, in the sense of a common ethnicity, may include a diaspora or refugees who live outside the nation-state; some nations of this sense do not have a state where that ethnicity predominates. In a more general sense, a nation-state is simply a large, politically sovereign country or administrative territory. A nation-state may be contrasted with:

  • A multinational state, where no one ethnic group dominates (may also be considered a multicultural state depending on the degree of cultural assimilation of various groups).
  • A city-state which is both smaller than a "nation" in the sense of "large sovereign country" and which may or may not be dominated by all or part of a single "nation" in the sense of a common ethnicity.[3][4][5]
  • An empire, which is composed of many countries (possibly non-sovereign states) and nations under a single monarch or ruling state government.
  • A confederation, a league of sovereign states, which might or might not include nation-states.
  • A federated state which may or may not be a nation-state, and which is only partially self-governing within a larger federation (for example, the state boundaries of Bosnia and Herzegovina are drawn along ethnic lines, but those of the United States are not).

This article mainly discusses the more specific definition of a nation-state, as a typically sovereign country dominated by a particular ethnicity.

Complexity

The relationship between a nation (in the ethnic sense) and a state can be complex. The presence of a state can encourage ethnogenesis, and a group with a pre-existing ethnic identity can influence the drawing of territorial boundaries or argue for political legitimacy.

This definition of a "nation-state" is not universally accepted. "All attempts to develop terminological consensus around "nation" resulted in failure", concludes academic Valery Tishkov.[6]

Walker Connor[7] discusses the impressions surrounding the characters of "nation", "(sovereign) state", "nation state", and "nationalism". Connor, who gave the term "ethnonationalism" wide currency, also discusses the tendency to confuse nation and state and the treatment of all states as if nation states. In Globalization and Belonging, Sheila L. Crouche discusses "The Definitional Dilemma".[8]