A nation is a grouping of people who consider themselves to have similar circumstances of cultural, political, same language, religion, traditions and so on. However, as no nation is culturally homogeneous, nations are ultimately defined subjectively by their members through the existence of patriotism or national consciousness. There are two types of nations, one being political and the other cultural. A state on the other hand is a political reality, it either exists or doesn’t.
They are political associations that establish supreme jurisdiction within defined territorial borders. As such, their populations may consist of a single nation, a part of a nation, or a number of nations. Confusion between the two terms occurs for a number of reasons We can firstly acknowledge confusion between clearing up the difference between a state and a nation, due to the fact that even though the state often holds the nation, a nation actually conveys people’s state of mind of emotions. A state just refers to a patch of a land with a sovereign government.
A state does not necessarily rule a people with common culture; it is merely a political concept. We understand that a nation is more about the people within it and how they are all linked, however a state is just seen as a territorial association, as it exercises jurisdiction within geographically defined borders. Furthermore, when speaking about a nation or a state we are often confused, because the structure of the modern world means nations and states are often considered essentially linked.
The nation is seen to form a natural political unit and cohesive society and so provide the basis for a stable state. Political nationalism is characterised by the aspiration of a nation to establish sovereign statehood, meaning that national identity is closely linked to the aspiration for self-government. As a result the two terms are often used interchangeable, for example the United Nations is really an organisation based on states, not nations.
As well as this we are often confused when differing the two, as even though a state as previously mentioned is a political concept, a nation is viewed differently by liberals and socialists, as they support the civic concept of nationhood as it is it inclusive in the sense that it places heavier emphasis upon political allegiance that upon cultural unity, undermining the idea that a nation is just about people who regard themselves as a natural political community, blurring the distinction between the nation and the state.
Lastly, confusion furthers when the concept a nation-state come into place. A nation-state undermines the idea of nations and a states being different. A nation-state is a type of political organisation and a political ideal put together. The most commonly acknowledged origin of the nation sate being the French Revolution. This is the major achievement of nationalism and tends to blur the distinction between nationality and citizenship. Despite confusion, there are numerous examples of the distinction.
Firstly, states such as Britain or the former Yugoslavia can be seen to contain more than one nation - English, Welsh, Scottish and Irish for the former, Serb, Croat, and Slovenian among others for the latter. Secondly, many groups exist which consider themselves nations but do not have their own state. This group might include the Basques of Spain, Kurds and Palestinians. That these groups all seek to achieve their own state exemplifies how the nation and state are considered intrinsically linked. When a group does not demand political autonomy in the form of a state, they are usually considered ethnic groups rather than nations.