7 Απριλίου 2015

The Rise of the Nation-State across the World, 1816 to 2001 by Andreas Wimmer and Yuval Feinstein.


Andreas Wimmer, Department of Sociology, University of California Los Angeles, 264 Haines Hall, Box 951551, Los Angeles, CA 90095-1551 (awimmer@soc.ucla.edu).

Abstract
Why did the nation-state proliferate across the world over the past 200 years, replacing empires, kingdoms, city-states, and the like? Using a new dataset with information on 145 of today’s states from 1816 to the year they achieved nation-statehood, we test key aspects of modernization, world polity, and historical institutionalist theories. Event history analysis shows that a nation-state is more likely to emerge when a power shift allows nationalists to overthrow or absorb the established regime. Diffusion of the nation-state within an empire or among neighbors also tilts the balance of power in favor of nationalists. We find no evidence for the effects of industrialization, the advent of mass literacy, or increasingly direct rule, which are associated with the modernization theories of Gellner, Anderson, Tilly, and Hechter. Nor is the growing global hegemony of the nation-state model a good predictor of individual instances of nation-state formation, as Meyer’s world polity theory would suggest. We conclude that the global rise of the nation-state is driven by proximate and contextual political factors situated at the local and regional levels, in line with historical institutionalist arguments, rather than by domestic or global structural forces that operate over the long durée.

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The French and American revolutions of the late-eighteenth century gave birth to the ideal of the modern nation-state - an independent state with a written constitution, ruled in the name of a nation of equal citizens. During those days, all other states were still governed on the basis of other principles of legitimacy. In dynastic states, a prince was entitled to assume the mantle of power upon the death of his father (as in the multiethnic Habsburg and Ethiopian empires); in theocracies, religious leaders guided their flocks in worldly matters as well (e.g., in Tibet and Montenegro); Ottoman and Spanish elites spread the true faith across the globe, British governors brought progress to ‘‘backward’’ peoples in far-away places, and, during the twentieth century, the party cadres of the Soviet Union advanced a revolutionary, transnational project in the name of the world’s working classes. Kings, theocrats, and imperial elites attempted to extend their states’ boundaries irrespective of the ethnic backgrounds of those who came under their rule.

Compare that situation to the world today: empires have dissolved, theocracies have been dethroned, and only a handful of countries, mostly in the Middle East, are still governed as absolutist monarchies comparable to prerevolutionary France, where the king ruled in the name of God and represented the House of Bourbon, not the French nation. The once revolutionary template of political legitimacy -self-rule in the name of a nation of equal citizens- is now almost universally adopted. This framework is recognized as the essence of modern statehood, so much so that the terms ‘‘nations’’ and ‘‘states’’ are often used interchangeably. Figure 1 shows that the global ascent of the nation-state over the past 200 years was a discontinuous process, unfolding in various waves linked to the break-up of large empires.


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