Distinguish Between the Nation and the State, and Explain Why the Two Terms Are Often Confused. (15marks)
Submitted By abugeja
The definition of a state is an organized body of institutions that hold a monopoly of coercive powers over a territorial area. Unlike a nation, membership of a state is objective with citizenships assigned which clearly shows the legal status of a person. A state has a fixed territory, which its power does not extend. The state is a sovereign entity; a state cannot exist without a centre of sovereignty that is in control of the territory as sovereignty is at the heart of the formation of a state. Normally a state is characterized as having for major components: population, sovereignty, government and territory. If one of these is missing the state is unable to exist. States don’t have to take into account individual’s thoughts towards belonging to a state, as they are purely political bodies.
A nation is defined by a community, which is united by a numbers of elements. These include; land, culture, language, tradition and a mutually accepted identity. Being part of a nation is more of a psychological bond supported by patriotism. Therefor it is subjective. The individuals themselves therefor decide upon membership. Patriotism is defined as a strong emotional attachment to an individual’s homeland and therefore giving their primary allegiance to the nation over all other aspects like religion. Nations do not necessarily have a defined geographical area however nations are still able to survive such as the case of the Kurds, which can be found in Turkey, Syria, and Iraq or the Jews. They are still able to survive as they have a number of other components such as history, ethnicity, and values. This makes most states multi-national, for example the UK contains Welsh, Scottish, English, and Northern Irish nationals. Nations do not have to have sovereignty to exist but rather rely on strong emotional unity and a sense of national identity. It is said that nations can withstand many event and remain strong compared to states. An example of this is during the Second World War, Germany was divided into two states after the collapse of the sovereign state, however the German people as a whole remained a nation due their bonds.
The two terms are often confused as they are often used interchangeably. People describing often confuse the two terms/ use them incorrectly. In addition to this there is an overlap between states and nations, which add to the confusion. Some states are homogenous in nationality like Japan causing the boundaries between citizenship and nationality to become increasingly closer and less distinct. Confusion may also arise due to states striving for self-determination. Nationalist Parties aim to achieve sovereign statehood such as Scotland by leaving the UK.