A nation state is a geographical area that can be identified as deriving its political legitimacy from serving as a sovereign nation.〔Such a definition is a working one: "All attempts to develop terminological consensus around "nation" resulted in failure", concludes . Walker Connor, in  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" (pp. 85ff). 〕
A state is a political and geopolitical entity, while a nation is a cultural and ethnic one. The term "nation state" implies that the two coincide, but "nation state" formation can take place at different times in different parts of the world.
The concept of a nation state can be compared and contrasted with that of the multinational state, city state, empire, confederation, and other state formations with which it may overlap. The key distinction is the identification of a people with a polity in the "nation state."
== History and origins ==
(詳細はSteven Weber of the University of California, Berkeley, David Woodward, and Jeremy Black〔Jeremy Black Maps and Politics pp.59-98 1998〕〔 Maps and Politics pp.100-147 1998〕 have advanced the hypothesis that the nation state didn't arise out of political ingenuity or an unknown undetermined source, nor was it an accident of history or political invention; but is an inadvertent byproduct of 15th-century intellectual discoveries in Political economy, Capitalism, Mercantilism, Political geography, and Geography〔 International Archives of the Photogrammetry, Remote Sensing and Spatial Information Sciences. Direct Georeferencing : A New Standard in Photogrammetry for High Accuracy Mapping Volume XXXIX pp.5-9 2012〕〔 International Archives of the Photogrammetry On Borders:From Ancient to Postmodern Times Volume 40 pp.1-7 2013〕 combined together with Cartography〔International Archives of the Photogrammetry Borderlines: Maps and the spread of the Westphalian state from Europe to Asia Part One –The European Context Volume 40 pp.111-116 2013〕〔International Archives of the Photogrammetry Appearance and Appliance of the Twin-Cities Concept on the Russian-Chinese Border Volume 40 pp.105-110 2013〕 and advances in map-making technologies. It was with these intellectual discoveries and technological advances that the nation state arose. For others, the nation existed first, then nationalist movements arose for sovereignty, and the nation state was created to meet that demand. Some "modernization theories" of nationalism see it as a product of government policies to unify and modernize an already existing state. Most theories see the nation state as a 19th-century European phenomenon, facilitated by developments such as state-mandated education, mass literacy and mass media. However, historians also note the early emergence of a relatively unified state and identity in Portugal and the Dutch Republic.
In France, Eric Hobsbawm argues, the French state preceded the formation of the French people. Hobsbawm considers that the state made the French nation, not French nationalism, which emerged at the end of the 19th century, the time of the Dreyfus Affair. At the time of the 1789 French Revolution, only half of the French people spoke some French, and 12-13% spoke it "fairly", according to Hobsbawm.
During the Italian unification, the number of people speaking the Italian language was even lower. The French state promoted the unification of various dialects and languages into the French language. The introduction of conscription and the Third Republic's 1880s laws on public instruction, facilitated the creation of a national identity, under this theory.
Some nation states, such as Germany or Italy, came into existence at least partly as a result of political campaigns by nationalists, during the 19th century. In both cases, the territory was previously divided among other states, some of them very small. The sense of common identity was at first a cultural movement, such as in the ''Völkisch movement'' in German-speaking states, which rapidly acquired a political significance. In these cases, the nationalist sentiment and the nationalist movement clearly precede the unification of the German and Italian nation states.
Historians Hans Kohn, Liah Greenfeld, Philip White and others have classified nations such as Germany or Italy, where cultural unification preceded state unification, as ''ethnic nations'' or ''ethnic nationalities''. However, 'state-driven' national unifications, such as in France, England or China, are more likely to flourish in multiethnic societies, producing a traditional national heritage of ''civic nations'', or ''territory-based nationalities''.〔Kohn, Hans (1955). ''Nationalism: Its Meaning & History''〕〔Greenfeld, Liah (1992). ''Nationalism: Five Roads to Modernity''〕〔White, Philip L. (2006). 'Globalization and the Mythology of the Nation State', In A.G.Hopkins, ed. ''Global History: Interactions Between the Universal and the Local'' Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 257–284〕 Some authors deconstruct the distinction between ethnic nationalism and civic nationalism because of the ambiguity of the concepts. They argue that the paradigmatic case of Ernest Renan is an idealisation and it should be interpreted within the German tradition and not in opposition to it. For example, they argue that the arguments used by Renan at the conference ''What is a nation?'' are not consistent with his thinking. This alleged civic conception of the nation would be determined only by the case of the loss gives Alsace and Lorraine in the Franco-Prussian War.〔Azurmendi, Joxe: ''Historia, arraza, nazioa'', Donostia: Elkar, 2014. ISBN 978-84-9027-297-8〕
The idea of a nation state was and is associated with the rise of the modern system of states, often called the "Westphalian system" in reference to the Treaty of Westphalia (1648). The balance of power, which characterized that system, depended on its effectiveness upon clearly defined, centrally controlled, independent entities, whether empires or nation states, which recognize each other's sovereignty and territory. The Westphalian system did not create the nation state, but the nation state meets the criteria for its component states (by assuming that there is no disputed territory).
The nation state received a philosophical underpinning in the era of Romanticism, at first as the 'natural' expression of the individual peoples (romantic nationalism: see Johann Gottlieb Fichte's conception of the ''Volk'', later opposed by Ernest Renan). The increasing emphasis during the 19th century on the ethnic and racial origins of the nation, led to a redefinition of the nation state in these terms.〔 Racism, which in Boulainvilliers's theories was inherently antipatriotic and antinationalist, joined itself with colonialist imperialism and "continental imperialism", most notably in pan-Germanic and pan-Slavic movements.〔See Hannah Arendt's ''The Origins of Totalitarianism'' (1951)〕
The relation between racism and ethnic nationalism reached its height in the 20th century fascism and Nazism. The specific combination of 'nation' ('people') and 'state' expressed in such terms as the ''Völkische Staat'' and implemented in laws such as the 1935 Nuremberg laws made fascist states such as early Nazi Germany qualitatively different from non-fascist nation states. Minorities were not considered part of the people (''Volk''), and were consequently denied to have an authentic or legitimate role in such a state. In Germany, neither Jews nor the Roma were considered part of the people, and were specifically targeted for persecution. German nationality law defined 'German' on the basis of German ancestry, excluding ''all'' non-Germans from the people.
In recent years, a nation state's claim to absolute sovereignty within its borders has been much criticized.〔 A global political system based on international agreements and supra-national blocs characterized the post-war era. Non-state actors, such as international corporations and non-governmental organizations, are widely seen as eroding the economic and political power of nation states, potentially leading to their eventual disappearance.
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