PV-05: States and Nations

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PV-05: States and Nations

Opening statement
We all live in states, which are responsible for the safety and good governance of all people within the state’s borders. Not all citizens or residents in a state will share the same nationality, but the state is responsible for them all. Societies within a state may be made up of a number of communities.

Why it is important in context of inclusive citizenship education?
Modern states have many people with full citizenship but who come from different backgrounds. Many of them may feel that they belong to a nationality different from the majority in the state in which they are now a citizen. Some people have more than one nationality and some can legally hold the nationality of their parent or grandparent wherever they may now be living. But the responsibility for their rights and welfare is that of the state in which they now have citizenship, and it important that the state, all its citizens, and the individual recognise this. Feeling that one belongs to a nationality has been described as being part of an imaginary community which may span many countries. Formal citizenship of the state is something that only a state can give.

Members of minority groups and majority groups can be confused about these differences: inclusive citizenship education will help learners understand them, and enable everyone to discuss them.

Context, issues, processes
Each state is responsible for the well-being of all its members, including those who may also be members of different communities, groups and ethnicities and citizens of other countries. It is the state of which we are citizens that has this duty, not any other state or society. The obligation to ensure well-being is that of all members of the state. It’s possible to still feel a sense of attachment to one’s historic roots and be a fully-contributing and participating member of the state in which one is now living.

In a rapidly changing and globalising world, most states now have members who come from many different parts of the world, or whose ancestors did. They can be both loyal members of the state they live in, meeting its duties and enjoying its rights, and at the same time value the culture from which they originally came. But societies and countries also need to change to meet the changes that come from their members (including both people moving into the state and young people with different views being born into the state). Societies and countries should reflect the cultures of their present members, which may be different from the previous culture. Norms and values change through negotiation between members of a community and a society.

Glossary of terms:

 state is a compulsory political organization with a centralized government that maintains a monopoly of the legitimate use of force within a certain geographical territory.

nation is a relatively stable community of people, formed on the basis of some or all of the following – a common language, territory, economic life, ethnicity, manifested in a common culture. A nation is distinct from a people, and is more abstract, and more overtly political than an ethnic group. It is a cultural-political community that has become conscious of its autonomy, unity, and particular interests. Nations have been famously described as ‘imagined communities’,

Although the term ‘nation-state’ has been common, it is fairly rare for the members of a state to be all of the same nationality – the great majority of states have citizens of more than one nationality; and it is common for people who consider themselves as members of the same nation to live in, and be citizens, of several states.

A society is a group of individuals involved in continuing social interaction, or a large social group sharing the same geographical or social territory, typically with a set of dominant cultural expectations. Larger societies often show stratification or patterns of dominance patterns between subgroups. As far as it is collaborative, a society can empower its members to benefits in ways that would not be possible on an individual basis; so individual and common social benefits can be seen (and in many cases overlap).

A community is a group of people living in the same place and/or having particular characteristics in common. A community will often have attitudes and interests in common.

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