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Why Are Nations Confused with the State?

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Submitted By sam473
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Sam Morris

Why is the nation sometimes confused with the state?

A nation is defined by a group of people who share a common cultural background, whether this be through shared traditions, a common language, history, religion, etc. They will consider themselves to be a community that has the ability to communicate on may level. A state is a sovereign power which is geographically defined and is governed by a certain set of laws and principles, which entitles it to be a self-determined entity. In today’s society some may view that because a state has these set of values, and that its citizens are by the very nature of fact that they abide by these values, are a nation. For example even though France is a state, the French people are also seen to form a nation. This combination of people sharing cultural values and having self-determination creates a nation-state. There is confusion caused because the state and the nation are linked heavily. Apart from the fact that most states are nations, the fact that the United Nations is actually a collection of states, recognised because of their political sovereignty. The two are also sometimes confused because nations which are not states will usually be struggling to gain statehood, which furthers the point that’s the two are intrinsically linked, such as Scotland who are seeking independence from the UK. Therefore they are currently part of the UK as a state, however they see their national identity as being Scottish. Despite the confusion there are features which separate nations from states. Firstly, there are nations which are neither states, neither are they trying to become states, such as Wales. They see there national identity, however they don’t see the political importance of self-determination. There is also the point that not all states are made up of just one nation, the UK for example is made up of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. In addition to this there are some nations which do not occupy a particular geographical area, an example of this could be the Jewish nation, whom by virtue of their shared history, traditions, etc. are a nation, however Jews do not occupy one area, rather they are spread across the world.

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