Reconfiguring the nation-state

Hybridity vs. uniformity

Authored by: John Loughlin

Routledge Handbook of Regionalism and Federalism

Print publication date:  May  2013
Online publication date:  July  2013

Print ISBN: 9780415566216
eBook ISBN: 9780203395974
Adobe ISBN: 9781136727627


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This chapter argues that the nation-state became the primary form of political organization from about the end of the 18th century and that it reached its culmination in the form of the welfare states constructed in Western Europe and, to a limited extent in the United States, after the Second World War. Furthermore, the nation-state model, based on the premise that nations should have states and that states should be co-terminus with nations, while originating in Europe spread across the world through imperialism and colonialism. The ‘Westphalian’ system of international relations exemplified by the United Nations (UN) is really a collection of nation-states rather than simply ‘nations’. The success of the nation-state model can be seen from the growth of the UN from its founding in San Francisco in 1945 by 50 states to its current membership of 193. In fact, so widespread is the nation-state model that we tend to take it for granted as being the ‘natural’ form of political governance.

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