nation state

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nation state

the modern form of STATE, possessing clearly defined borders, in which the boundaries of state and society tend to be coextensive, i.e. the territorial claims of the state typically correspond with cultural, linguistic and ethnic divisions (see also NATIONALISM). As such, these modern forms of state contrast with the most successful earlier state forms (e.g. preindustrial empires) which usually lacked the administrative or other resources to impose, such cultural integration.

As GIDDENS (1985) puts it, a decisive feature of modern nation states is that they are ‘bordered power containers’ enclosing far greater administrative intensity than traditional states. Furthermore, these modern states have also existed as part of a NATION-STATE SYSTEM of similarly constituted states, in which:

  1. WARFARE and the preparation for war played a fundamental consitutive role; and
  2. in providing a model, paved the way for all subsequent modern nation states, e.g. in Asia and Africa. In recent years, sociologists have tended to place a new emphasis on the role of the state in transforming the traditional world, often granting political institutions greater autonomy from, and sometimes even primacy over, economic institutions. See also ABSOLUTISM, SOVEREIGNTY, STANDING ARMY, ARMS RACE, CITIZEN, SURVEILLANCE, DEMOCRACY.