Copyright Sociological Research Online, 1996
The modern nation state is often thought of as part of a modernizing project in industrial societies. In this project the nation state is not thought of as being based upon a national identity, but is seen as having more universal aims. These include a modern economy, universal and uniform education and the compromise institutions of the welfare state negotiated between different classes and status groups. In some cases, on the other hand, the nation state may be established by a dominant ethnic group with its own values and institutions. In both cases the nation state will develop its own national ideology but will be corrosive of subordinate ethnicities and ethnic identities.
New immigrant ethnic minorities have their own separate sense of identity. This should not however be thought of in essentialist terms as unchanging and clearly bounded. A more complex model of ethnic mobilization under conditions of migration is suggested.
The response of established societies to the presence of these minorities might take one of three forms. It may involve attempts to assimilate the minorities on equal terms as citizens; it may seek to subordinate them to a dominant ethnic group as second class citizens or denizens; or, it may recognize cultural diversity in the private communal sphere while maintaining a shared public political culture. The new national identity of the host society will depend upon the outcome of processes which follow from the adoption of these different policies.
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