The Concept of Nationhood in Politics and the Political Theory of Nationhood

In defining a nation, most political scientists agree that a nation is any country or state that has a political system based on notions of nationhood and nationality. A nation is usually defined by its history and by the population sharing some basic traits. A nation is usually a group of likeminded people who share a common heritage, language, culture, tradition and a certain territory. A nation is an identity of such people.


When one uses the word nation in political science, it is usually associated with the idea of nation-state. According to the subjective approach, there are many kinds of nations – linguistic nations, ethnic nations, political nations, linguistic ethnonational communities, cultural nationalities and pan-ethnic communities. Each group has its own cultural norms, values and boundaries and each nation-state has its own identity, integrity and political system.

Nationalism is an ideology that promotes the feeling of being a nation-state rather than a member of a particular nation. This idea can be traced back to the ancient philosophies of classical Athens, where the term was used to refer to Greek cultural traditions and to the Stoic philosophies of Platonistic rationalism. In modern times, national sentiments have been expressed by various national groups in various ways. Some express nationalism in terms of a feeling of solidarity with other nations, some in terms of hatred for a foreign country and others in terms of patriotism. Still, the feeling of nationhood is more often than not linked to the concept of a political entity that is recognized as a nation-state in the eyes of the world community. Nationalism is also associated with notions of social hierarchy, with the feeling of belonging to a group and with the desire to maintain these groups interest at any cost.