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Lopez Alves, Fernando
Year of Publication: 
Series/Report no.: 
Serie Documentos de Trabajo, Universidad del CEMA: Área: ciencia política 510
For almost two centuries substantial research in Sociology, Political Science, History and Anthropology has focused on the state, the nation, nationalism, and national identity. Despite a very remarkable amount of knowledge and intelligent theorizing a number of questions need revisiting and more encompassing comparative work is needed. Here, I offer an argument that involves three areas seldom, if ever, compared: Western Europe, South America, and North America (particularly the United States). The period spans from the sixteenth century to the 1930s but I specially focus on the epoch that starts in the 1750s. The length of the period under scrutiny allows testing correlations among variables over long periods of time. First, I revisit the concept of 'nation' and stress that nations are intellectual constructs as much as they are cultural and imagined ones. Second, I emphasize the state's conceptualizing of the nation as a key independent variable connected to the construction of national identity. Third, I bring some findings of the philosophy of language to bear upon the ways states conceptualize nations and construct their public discourse in relation to national identity. Fourth, I argue that rather than other important factors such as the cultural, ethnic, and linguistic characteristics of the national community, the construction of national identity depends upon the modernization of bureaucracies (in Max Weber's sense) and the characteristics of the civil service. I am particularly interested in the way modern bureaucracies institutionalize meaning. Finally, I suggest that the terms nation-state and national-state have contributed more to a theory of the state than to a theory of the connections between states and nations. I therefore redefine these terms and add a third concept ('state-nation') in order to better capture the relations between states and nations in the regions compared. I identify the relation between states and nations as one of codependency and I claim that different types of codependency are connected to the consolidation of different types of political regimes. During the last two and a half centuries codependency between states and nations has progressively augmented, despite the ups and downs of globalization, different types of international conflict, and changes in the global economic cycle.
Document Type: 
Working Paper

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