There is no single crisis of the contemporary nation state, but a multiplicity of crises, one of which has centrally to do with ethnicity and cultural difference and how to handle pluralism. Pluralism itself, however, has taken many forms, and three varieties are particularly interesting from a comparative perspective. In early patrimonial societies, as Max Weber called them, those with different ethnic and cultural identities often formed separate corporations within which they had relative autonomy. Under conditions of modernity and industrialism, the emphasis is on homogeneity and assimilation, while contemporary, post‐modern, post‐industrial societies often allow considerable space for heterogeneity and difference.
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