States & Nations Essay

1188 words - 5 pages

The terms state and nation are often used interchangeably in both casual and formal conversations. For example, the organization known as the United Nations is actually an association of states, not nations. Though the two concepts seem vague, and in fact are related, there is a great distinction between the two. In order to have a clear separation between the two concepts, we must look at their origins and distinctions.The legal notion of a state is a "territorially bound sovereignty", sovereignty being an independent legal authority over people in a given geographic territory. However, in political science, we refer a state to the organizational units, institutions, and individuals that perform the political functions for a national territory entity. A state exists when there are distinctive leadership roles, rules for social interaction, and a set of organizational arrangements to identify and serve the collective needs of those occupying the state. It is an autonomous actor within its territory and is distinct from the rest of the society (Danziger). Political sociologist, Max Weber, said what distinguishes the state from all other organizations is its monopoly on the legitimate use of force and coercion in the society, "only the state has the right to use violence to enforce the society's laws and decisions." Some examples of states include France, the United States, China, Nigeria, etc. Within a state, a regime has the political authority. These regimes regulate the operation of government and its interactions within the economy and society. For example, one of the oldest regimes still operating today is the United States Constitution. These regimes can be de facto or de jure. De facto being that the regime is in reality and practiced compared to a regime being de jure, this is just written on paper, and may not be practiced.The idea of a nation often implies a common blood relation; however, this is rarely the case today. A nation is defined as a sociopolitical unit that has a deeply shared fundamental identification among a set of people based on shared ethnicity, language, descent, culture, religion, or geographic space. The nation is a major group, beyond the family, with whom the individual identifies very powerfully (Danziger). The word nation derives from Latin and means a self-identifying people who share a common history, often language, a common culture, and homeland. It must be noted that in today's definition, a nation doesn't necessarily have to have one language, ethnic group, or its own state. A nation can be present in numerous areas of the world. A few examples of nations may be the Ogoni, Catholics, and even a growing Red Sox Nation. There are thousands of nations around the world and that number continues to grow.The greatest distinctions between states and nations are their boundaries and roles. Part of the definition of a state is that it has a defined territory, a state is bound to that territory and the ways a state...

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