States, Nations, and Globalization

You have learned in the previous post that political science is the study of the state and the government. In this section, you will further learn about the state and will be acquainted with the basic differences among state, government, and nation. You may wonder what could be the importance of states as a political entity and as an actor in the global order, given the increasing interconnectedness of the world at present. The relationship between the state and globalization will also be addressed in this part.

States, Governments, and Nations

The state is a political community that has sovereign jurisdiction over a clearly defined territory, and exercises authority through several institutions, including the government. Heywood (2013) offers five features of a state:

    1. It is sovereign. 
    2. Its institutions are public.
    3. It is an exercise of legitimation.
    4. It is an instrument of domination.
    5. It is a territorial association.

The state has four elements, namely: sovereignty, government, territory, and people. Sovereignty refers to both jurisdiction (the ability of a state to exercise its authority over its territory and people) and independence (the freedom from external control). The government is the machinery of the state through which the people’s will is formulated and carried out. The territory includes all the land, sea, and airspace the state exercises jurisdiction on. Finally, the people or population is the organization of human beings living together as a community.

There are several classifications of states depending on the perspective one conforms to. Roskin (2012) claimed that while no international tribunal classifies states based on strength, analysts provide three categories.

Types of States


    • The state controls and taxes the entire territory. 
    • Laws are mostly obeyed.
    • The state provides general welfare and security.
    • There exists only minor corruption.


    • Crime has penetrated politics. 
    • Government is weak in fighting lawlessness, corruption, and poverty.
    • Justice is bought and elections are often rigged.
    • Governmental revenues go to private pockets.


    • No national government exists. 
    • The state is ruled by warlords, private army, and militias.
    • “Gun” is the law.
    • Education and health standards decline.

Roskin (2012) held that a state is a powerful entity strong enough to enforce its will. Political institutions, the working structures of government, are important in the proper functioning of a state. As what you have learned, the government serves as a mechanism of the state, through which the will of the people is expressed, formulated, and carried out. One way of studying political institutions is through identifying the locus of power—that is, by asking the question, “Who governs?”

From this, governments may be classified in several ways. One of the earliest classifications was that of Aristotle. He distinguished governments based on who governs and whether or not such government is positive (legitimate) or negative (corrupt). The table below presents Aristotle’s classic work.

Aristotle’s Six Types of Governments

Who governs? How many?

Positive Forms

Negative Forms










From this categorization by Aristotle, comparative political scientists would later on provide several other government typologies. What other types can you provide?

Now that you have learned these basics, how different then is a state from a government? There are several key differences according to Heywood (2013):

Key Distinctions between State and Government (Heywood, 2003)



More extensive; it encompasses all institutions and citizens

An element/part of the state; it is the means through which state authority is exercised

Continuing and permanent entity

Temporary and can be changed from time to time

Exercises impersonal authority; its personnel are trained in bureaucratic ways

The “government of the day” is ideologically biased

Represents the interest of the society or the common good

Represents the interests of those in power at a given period

How about a nation? How different is it from a state and from a government?

If a state is a political community bound by political obligations, a nation is a group of people bound together by commonalities in language, history, traditions, and religion. In this case, a nation is not just cultural, but could be political as well—especially when the people share a common civic consciousness. Although not necessary, a nation can also be seen as psychological when people share loyalty or affection in the form of patriotism (Heywood 2013).

The integration of the state and the nation forms the nation-state. This political organization is widely recognized today. As an entity, its strength relies on the fusion of both the cultural and political aspects present in a state and in a nation, allowing for cultural cohesion and at the same time political unity. However, nation-states have been met with challenges, including, but not limited to, the growth of ethnic politics and globalization. How has globalization influenced the nation-state?

The nation-state is at the intersection of the cultural aspect of the nation and the political aspect of the state. The Philippines is an example of a nation-state.

Globalization and the Nation-State

Globalization is considered to be the most important threat to the nation-state. But what is this phenomenon? What impact does it have to people and nation-states? Heywood (2013) defined globalization as the process through which societies have become so intertwined or interconnected that events and decisions in one part of the world have significant effects on the lives of people in the other part of the world. Transformations in production of goods and the flow of financial capital can be a result of the further integration of economies in the world economy. For example, changes in domestic politics and economy of the Philippines can actually be caused by events happening in different countries. To illustrate this, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Integration may have caused the developments in Philippine educational policies (e.g., the implementation of the K to 12 Basic Education Program) so that the movement of students within the member-countries will be “free-flowing” too. How and why does this happen? What are the characteristics of globalization as a phenomenon? Heywood (2013) enumerates its features.

  1. Declining relevance of geographical distance 
  2. Lessening significance of territorial boundaries
  3. Deepening and broadening of political processes, such that the local, national, and global events constantly interact.

Globalization resulted in a growing interdependence among actors, activities, and processes all over the world. Several forms of globalization can be identified, of which Heywood (2013) listed three—economic, cultural, and political. The following table summarizes the key features of these forms of globalization and enumerates some examples.

Forms of Globalization




Economic Globalization

All economies have been integrated in a global economy.

  • Internationalized production
  • Financial capital flowing freely between countries

Cultural Globalization

Information, commodities, and images from one part of the world make cultural differences between nations and individuals less significant.

  • McDonaldization or what George Ritzer (1993) called as rationalization that Max Weber found in bureaucraciesextended to fast-food
  • chains. This then leads to standardization of processes such as production.
  • Information revolution
  • Global brands penetrating the
  • local scene

Political Globalization

The importance of international organizations, transnational organizations, and nongovernmental organizations is being recognized.

Influence on domestic issues of organizations such as the United Nations, World Trade Organization, World Bank, Asian Development Bank, International Red Cross, and World Wide Fund for Nature