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A word somewhat similar to society in that it includes all those persons who share common descent, language and history and close association with each other. For Canadians, the term reflects a major debate about the nature of Canada. In English, the term nation implies a community of people who have political autonomy and who occupy a distinct territory. In French, in contrast, the term is closer in meaning to a community of people sharing common origins and ties of interrelationship. Thus when French speakers refer to Quebec as a ‘nation’ they tend to mean Quebec as an historic community of people, rather than necessarily implying that Quebec is, or ought to be, completely politically autonomous and detached from Canada. It is noteworthy that Quebec refers to its legislative house as the National Assembly while other provinces use the term Legislature. There are approximately 170 nation states in the world but there are 15,000 nations in the second sense of the word.

Last updated 2002--0-9-

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Athabaca University ICAAP

© Robert Drislane, Ph.D. and Gary Parkinson, Ph.D.
The online version of this dictionary is a product of
Athabasca University and

*This social science dictionary has 1000
entries covering the disciplines of sociology, criminology, political
science and women's study with a commitment to Canadian examples and
events and names