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European Nations and States Essay

a) ‘The state is a legal and political concept (Schopflin 2000)’, incorporating many structures of society like the police force and jurisdiction and enables them to ‘enter into relations with each other (Torstendahl 92: 18)’.It has developed as an ‘inevitable outgrowth of a modern, industrial society (Smith 95)’ due to the states representation of the people within its defined territory and its obligation to uphold their ‘specific rights and immunities within that territory (Vincent 87:19)’.This obligation and representation is a crucial element of the state in its claim to ‘rightful obedience (Hall 84: 1)’.The legitimacy of its rule relies upon ‘popular sovereignty (Allum 95, 300)’ in its defined territory to legitimise its rule, although this is not be the case in all states for example the Iraqi dictatorship.

Territory defines the population limits ‘over which it (the state) holds jurisdiction (Vincent 87: 19)’, but territory is not a definite part of the state definition as ‘states will often disagree on boundaries (Vincent 87: 19)’, for example Alsace-Lorraine was a much disputed region between France and Germany.

The state acts as an authority which has ‘the power to make decisions about the ‘general arrangements’ of the whole group (Hall 84: 2)’.It is a body for resolve of conflict and its policies can be explained as ‘the outcome of conflict between relevant interest groups (Low 2001:487)’.For this authority the citizens of the state are in some cases allowed ‘the right to influence state policy through democratic processes (Low 2001: 475)’ such as voting and protesting. Structures within the state such as Presidencies and other separations of power have different levels of authority and have different roles in running the state depending upon the type of power hierarchy within that state (Torestendahl 92: 21)’.

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The state also holds ‘the monopoly of legitimate violence (Gellner 1983:3)’ within its territory, the use of police force and Army for defence of the states population (‘internal order and external defence (Vincent 87: 20)’.Defence of the states population is the states obligation to its citizens to provide ‘the conditions in which life, limb and property of the individuals can be protected and the ‘rights and liberties’ of the individual secured (Hall 84: 26)’.Internal order is necessary to uphold the state law and maintain order and so Gellner says that the police and jurisdiction ‘are the state (Gellner 83: 4)’.State laws vary between states which is described as the ‘specialization and concentration of order maintenance (Gellner 83:4)’.They have the authority to create ‘laws,decrees,orders'(Allum 95: 293)’, which become uniform throughout the state and the state enforces their observance (Allum 95: 293).

Structures of the state need to be funded and so the state must have a ‘single economy (Smith 95)’ which generates wealth ‘in the form of taxes of military service (Low 2001: 480)’.For this extraction of wealth from those within its territory the state must do things to become necessary and ‘important to their inhabitants (Low 2001: 480)’. For example provide education and healthcare, although the development of these social guarantees and economies are uneven between and sometimes within states. For this the state requires its population to accommodate ‘living with difference (Schopflin 2000)’, the difference is the class structure and culture variance within a state. These need to be tolerated because without the state ‘civil society becomes uncivil and anarchic (Schopflin 2000)’.

b) Nations are a union of a group of people through elements of human imagination (Anderson 1983 in Poole 1999:10). They share common elements of life which create a shared view of the world and common aspirations, some to autonomy of their own ‘state’ (Guibernau 1999:16).

A shared culture is a crucial element in a feeling of unity between people. Culture is shared experiences of history which enables people to view an ‘image of their communion (Anderson 1983 in Poole 1999:10)’ and to unite in ‘a common project for the future (Guibernau 1999: 14)’. For example war monuments and graves after World War I became central in the iconography of the nation (Poole 1999:12) as it gave physical representation the sacrifice men and women made for the nation, and the nations shared grievance. Culture is also a process of ‘self formation’ as people use it as a means of acquiring the common social identity which associates one with the nation (Poole 1999:13).

Language is major element as it is the way we receive information. It is our ‘mode of access (Poole 1999:14)’ to other people and in exchange of ideas and information. Language helps create a feeling of community as members of that community could be identified by their ability to communicate with one another (Guibernau 1996: 67). Language alone cannot compose a nation because countries like Switzerland survive with communities speaking 5 different languages (www.about.ch).Language is a central part of ‘high culture (Smith 1995)’ which developed with the growth of the print press. The print press allowed the creation of a standardized literacy (Guibernau 1996: 66) which enabled more people to have access to printed material, increasing cultural identification within nations and linking language and culture in the creation of a national culture (Poole 1999:9)

Religion creates a community through sharing a common idea and belief and the rituals associated with this belief. The northern European countries, excluding Ireland, were prominently protestant where there were nation building alliances between the Church and state. The southern European countries and France were predominantly catholic, but the catholic church formed the opposition to nation building in these states (Allum 1995:90).

There are some ethnical questions about a nation as there are beliefs that bloodline can differentiate nations such has Hitler’s Aryan nation (Burleigh 2000:92). There is also some link between language and ethnicity (Chadwick 1945: 1) (Wodak 1999:57).Ethnic and religious definitions of the state are no longer entirely suitable as immigration has led to mixed culture communities throughout the world and so nations can no longer fit ‘the mould of the ethnic nation (Miscevic 2000: 27)’.

A nation’s population must also want to be part of the nation, they must have a will to meet their common goals as a group. This will makes the operation of the nation a ‘daily plebiscite (Poole 1999:35).

The world map is divided up into states so all nations live in the jurisdiction of a state. Nations are the people who legitimise the state so they are represented in that state, so a nation requires a territory. There can be multiple nations within a state however so not all nations have representative states (Guibernau 1999: 15).The Kurdish nation in Iraq lives under Iraqi state rule (Sidaway 2001: 457).

Individual national identities also mean exclusion as well as inclusion. That which would constitute an English nationality would mean purposeful exclusion of all other national traits and histories (Poole 1999:42).It is this which has led to development of cultural traditions and identities which install a ‘feeling of ‘us’ and ‘them’ (Nugent 2003: 3)’ and promotes loyalty and service to ones own nation.

c) The nation-state is in the modern world a sovereign state which has the recognition of other nation-states and provides a framework for what is internal to the state and what external (Guibernau 1999: 152).

The state claims to be a ‘sovereign expression of the nation (Sidaway 2001: 460)’ as it geographically maps the territorial boundaries within which a nations rule is legitimate and recognised. This could constitute a definition of a nation-state as it contains a synthesis of the many claims of nations (cultural identity) and states (sovereignty).The nation-state is a primary figure in international relations, dealing with the interests of the state and the nation it represents through its support, opposition and dealings with other nation-states (Guibernau 1996: 58).Nation-states are not always representing a single cultural identity though and smaller nations are often excluded because of national identity (Guibernau 1999: 153).British nationalism incorporated Wales, Scotland and Ireland before Welsh, Irish and Scottish national cultural identities grew based on language (Chadwick 1945: 2).

The Nation-state is a cohesion of elements which form the state and nation, constructing a greater ‘global network’ of interacting state bodies internationally (Guibernau 1999:153). It is representative of a nation’s identity and the history and goals of the people which form that culture. It is conducted through the state’s systems of government and parliaments and other structures which draw their sovereignty from the ‘popular will’ of a nation and years of establishment and ‘specialization (Gellner 1983).

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