Walker Connor
SubjectPolitics Sociology » Sociology of Development Key-Topicsglobalization, state DOI:10.1111/b.9781405124331.2007.x


The term nation-state was originally intended to describe a political unit (a state) whose borders coincided or roughly coincided with the territorial distribution of a nation, the latter in its pristine sense of a human grouping who share a conviction of being ancestrally related. The word nation derives from the Latin verb nasci (meaning to be born) and its noun form,natio (connoting breed or race). The very coining of the hyphenate, nation-state, illustrated an appreciation of the essential difference between its two components, but careless terminology has subsequently tended to obscure the difference. Today, nation is often used as a substitute for a state (as in “the United Nations”) or as a synonym for the population of a state without regard to its ethnonational composition (e.g., “the British nation”). With the distinction between nation and state thus blurred, the term nation-state has lost much of its original value as a means of distinguishing among types of states. Although only some 10 percent of all states are sufficiently ethnically homogeneous to merit being described as nationstates, it has become an increasingly common practice to refer to all states as nationstates. The confusing of nation with state would not be so troublesome were all states nationstates. In such cases, loyalty to nation (nationalism) and loyalty to the state (patriotism) reinforce one another in a seamless manner. The state is perceived as the political extension or expression of the nation, and appeals to the one trigger the same associations and emotions as do appeals to the other. The same blurring of the two loyalties is common in the case of a staatvolk, a nation which is sufficiently preeminent – politically, culturally, and usually numerically – that its members also popularly perceive the state in monopolistic terms as the state of our nation, even though other nations are present. (Examples include the Han Chinese, the Russians, and, at least prior to the very late twentieth century, the English.) For people with their own nation-state and for staatvolk, then, nationalism and civic loyalty coincide and reinforce. But the overwhelming number of nations neither have their own state nor constitute a staatvolk. For them, civic and national loyalty do not coincide and may well conflict. And, as substantiated by the commonness of secessionist movements waged under the banner of national self-determination, when the two loyalties are perceived as being in irreconcilable conflict, nationalism has customarily proven the more powerful of the two loyalties.

Cook. ingenuity. Genocide. governments have adopted policies aimed at increasing national homogeneity. an increasing number of governments have elected to shun the nation-state model in favor of programs seeking to peacefully accommodate national diversity through the granting of greater cultural and political autonomy to minority nations.Nation-State and Nationalism. Similarly. Ethnonationalism. degree of coerciveness/persuasion.” Genocide. More commonly. Such programs vary considerably in scope. nation (Volksdeutsch). but the German and Japanese leadership were able to elicit such fidelity in an imperialistic war to create multinational empires because the state and its goals had blended with the nation and its interests in a homogeneous mix. Ethnic Cleansing. Raison d'état and raison de la nation were one. with great loss of life. Although. or homeland (Deutschland) because all triggered the same emotional associations. State. could variously make his appeals to the German people in the name of state (Deutsches Reich). SEE ALSO: Assimilation. Nationalism. determination to maintain the territorial integrity of the state customarily places secession beyond governmental contemplation. Far more commonly. even encouraged – a homeland-dwelling minority to secede. including a willingness to continue. and population transfers. to pursue a war after they were aware that it was unwinnable. Such devotion. envisaged timetable. T. in a very few cases. (Eds. H. Hitler.” As a result of such failures. & Cook. who in Mein Kampf had noted that “We as Aryans are therefore able to image a State only to be the living organism of a nationality” (Hitler 1940). complexity. In recognition of the unparalleled advantage that the nation-state enjoys over other forms of states for mobilizing the entire population under its jurisdiction.The nation-state therefore best lends itself to the concentration of authority because it is the simultaneous focus of two powerful loyalties (nationalism and patriotism) on the part of all major segments of the population. And thus for a Japanese kamikaze pilot or a banzai-charge (a mass death charge) participant to be asked whether he was about to die for Nippon or for the Nipponese people or for the emperor (who was regularly extolled as the “father” of the nation) would be an incomprehensible query since the three blurred into an inseparable whole. governments of heterogeneous states accept the current inhabitants of the state as a given and pursue homogenization through assimilationist programs. and fervidity of the implementors. expulsion. . when observed in a war of national liberation. governments have permitted – in still rarer cases.) (1992) Japan at War: An Oral History. But programmed assimilation does not have an impressive record. however. intensity. New Press. are the usual means of achievement. The fanatical devotion that the ruling regime of such a state can muster was demonstrated during World War II by the willingness of the German and Japanese people to make any sacrifice. can be attributed to nationalism. New York. Multiculturalism. as we are reminded by the history of the Soviet Union wherein national consciousness and resentment grew among non-Russian peoples despite 70 years of comprehensive and sophisticated governmental efforts to solve what was officially termed “the national question. employed separately or in combination. governments have pursued homogenization through what is currently called “ethnic cleansing.

Princeton University Press. Tilly. George (ed). Princeton. 2007. Princeton University Press. New York.Connor. (2004) Anthony D. (Ed.) (1975) The Formation of National States in Western Europe. Hitler. "Nation-State. (1994) Ethnonationalism: The Quest for Understanding.sociologyencyclopedia. W. Previous Entry Next Entry Cite this article Connor. (1940) Mein Kampf. Blackwell 4331_chunk_g978140512433120_ss1-2> . Walker. Blackwell Reference Online. Nations and Nationalism (10) : 125–41. Guibernau. M. Princeton. Ritzer. 10 May 2012 <https://acces-distant.sciencespo. Smith on Nations and National Identity: A Critical Assessment. Reynal & Hitchcock. A." Blackwell Encyclopedia of Sociology.