The Varying Referents of the State: Nation, People, Citizenry

Guillermo O'Donnell

in Democracy, Agency, and the State

Published in print June 2010 | ISBN: 9780199587612
Published online September 2010 | e-ISBN: 9780191723384 | DOI:

Series: Oxford Studies in Democratization

The Varying Referents of the State: Nation, People, Citizenry

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Typically the modern state has collective referents, the common good of which its officers claim to serve. These referents, depending on periods and countries, are variously called the citizenry, the nation, and/or the people, and they are often invoked in rituals, discourses, and educational policies that aim to create a collective identity linked to the state. In turn, each of those terms has various and complex meanings, creating a terminological Babel that this chapter tries to at least partially clarify. This is necessary for setting the discussion of the complex relationship of citizenship as defined in a democratic regime and citizenship as entailed by membership in a nation or equivalent terms. The chapter also includes an overview of the processes of construction of such a collective referent in the Northwest, once again providing some references to the similarities and contrasts to other parts of the world.

Keywords: the state; nation; people; citizenship; collective identity; rituals; socialization; violence

Chapter.  8885 words. 

Subjects: Comparative Politics

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