In modern politics as well as international relations, the most significant unit is referred to as the ‘state’ or more often the ‘nation state’. While the crisis of the nation state has been a staple in discussions on politics since the late twentieth century, there is no doubt it remains the most powerful unit/actor in politics in the first half of the twenty-first century. This chapter examines what the nation state is, and how it has evolved to occupy such a prominent position in our life. It also highlights various challenges that the nation state faces in the contemporary world, particularly in response to the increased movement of people across the globe and the spread of neoliberalism, as a way of assisting further understanding of this important unit/actor in politics.
This chapter examines a range of contemporary ideologies which challenge the traditional ones identified in ~Chapter 5. They differ from traditional ideologies in a number of ways. They are, first, less optimistic about the ability of ideologies to construct an overarching explanation of the world, not surprisingly since they emerged in the aftermath of the catastrophic impact of some traditional ideologies. They also respect difference and variety. This is a product of social and economic change which has eroded the ‘Fordist’ economy, brought into being a number of powerful identity groups based on gender, culture, and ethnicity, and raised question marks over the environmental sustainability of current industrial practices. Two modern political currents – postmodernism and populism – are considered and it is questioned whether they can be properly described as ideologies. The chapter then considers a number of contemporary ideologies such as feminism, environmentalism, multiculturalism, and religious fundamentalism.