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Struggling over the Boundaries of Belonging: A Formal Model of Nation Building, Ethnic Closure, and Populism

Clemens Kroneberg and Andreas Wimmer
American Journal of Sociology
Vol. 118, No. 1 (July 2012), pp. 176-230
DOI: 10.1086/666671
Stable URL:
Page Count: 55
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This article explores the conditions under which political modernization leads to nation building, to the politicization of ethnic cleavages, or to populism by modeling these three outcomes as more or less encompassing exchange relationships between state elites, counterelites, and the population. Actors seek coalitions that grant them the most advantageous exchange of taxation against public goods and of military support against political participation. Modeling historical data on the distribution of these resources in France and the Ottoman Empire from 1500 to 1900 shows that nation building results from strong state centralization and well-established civil societies; ethnic closure, from weak state capacity and civil societies; and populism, from medium centralization and weak civil societies. The results are consistent with French and Ottoman political histories of the 18th and 19th centuries.

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