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Nationalism: Definition, Examples, and History


Nationalism is the expression of the identity of the nation. Nationalism could be understood only through the understanding of two different terms – nation and state. This paper presents what is nationalism, what is the difference between state and nation, and how the different interests of nation and state lead to conflict.

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What is nationalism

Nationalism is not a mere word that can be restricted to a concept. Even though patriotism is one of the aspects of nationalism, patriotism itself is not nationalism. French revolution brought the concept of nationalism in its prominence. Nationalism can be explained as a social movement having the involvement and expression of emotional, political, historical, and cultural aspects of the identity of a nation. It strengthens the sentiments about the belongingness that the nation owns. But Mark Suzman gives a different explanation to nationalism “as a political ideology insisting that the state be controlled by the nation.” (What is Nationalism, 1). From this definition, we can infer that this is a politically constructed philosophy emphasizing the relationship between the state and nation. State and nation have a pivotal role in the description and analysis of nationalism without which it cannot be defined. In nationalism, there is an ardent desire to go back and it was projected in all the nationalist movements around the world. Since the people share cultural and ethnic elements in common, the first loyalty of the people goes to the nation.

What is the difference between state and nation?

There is a difference between state and nation. A state is an organization that has a legal and political basis and sovereignty over the allotted area and people. It is clearer when it is explained as the state is a state where the people are organized politically under the body of single governance. The nation is a group of people that is motivated and mobilized politically aiming at possessing the power to life liberated from other ideologies and any other oppression. Nation encompasses the common sharing of history, culture, language, ethnicity, ideology, etc among a body of people. The state is a necessity for the people for a smooth life, whereas the nation is an accident and not a necessity. State comes into being as its own and nation is emerged due to state. But, nationalism strengthens the people to win its vested interests.

The collision between the interests of nation and state

Whenever the interest of the nation does not coincide with the interest of the state, there will be chaos in the society. There are a set of instances in the world where the two factors have gone to a different extreme. When there are several cultures, languages, religions, and ethnicities in a state it is more prompted to conflict. The national interests of various religions and ethnicities will be different and probably it may affect the well functioning of the state as a government body and it will lead to civil conflicts. The fight between LTTE (Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam) and the government in ‘Sri Lanka’ is the best example to assess how the national interest becomes an obstacle in the function of the state. LTTE was demanding the formation of its nation in Sri Lanka which was totally against the interest of the state. This led to the number of bomb explosions and civil war that resulted in the death and massacre of enormous people. It spread anxiety among the people, and people were not safe at those times. It was an obstacle to the socio-economic development of the state. The state is a politically organized system of governance, whereas national interest is the expression of increased emotions and sentiments. National interest may enkindle due to over-affection and attachment towards language, culture, etc. and it may lead to conflicts in terms of religion, sect, community, and language. When the national interest and the interest of the state go together, the country will leap to development in all the fields of life. Therefore, we can say that state and nation are two important factors that determine nationalism.


This paper focuses on answering what nationalism is and the difference between state and nation. There are numerous examples of how different interests of nation and state lead to conflict. To understand nationalism, we have to analyze the two terms state and nation.

Works Cited

What is Nationalism. Essay Info: Essay Writing Centre. 2009. Web.

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StudyCorgi. (2021, November 6). Nationalism: Definition, Examples, and History. Retrieved from


StudyCorgi. (2021, November 6). Nationalism: Definition, Examples, and History.

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"Nationalism: Definition, Examples, and History." StudyCorgi, 6 Nov. 2021,

1. StudyCorgi. "Nationalism: Definition, Examples, and History." November 6, 2021.


StudyCorgi. "Nationalism: Definition, Examples, and History." November 6, 2021.


StudyCorgi. 2021. "Nationalism: Definition, Examples, and History." November 6, 2021.


StudyCorgi. (2021) 'Nationalism: Definition, Examples, and History'. 6 November.

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