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The term nationality is used for various concepts: On the one hand, in German it stands for the legal assignment of a person to politically defined nations in the sense of nationality . On the other hand, nationality can also describe belonging to an ethnic group or a national identity and its people via the concept of ethnicity .

Nationality as an ethnic classification

In the German Democratic Republic (GDR) the term “nationality”, unlike the term nationality in English usage, was not seen as a legal term, but only as an ethnic-social term. The “German nationality” in the sense of the GDR leadership could therefore not be equated with German citizenship (citizenship: GDR, nationality: German). The content of the terms "nationality" and "nation" was paraphrased as follows in the GDR:

“This whole complex of ethnic characteristics, traits and characteristics of a population is called“ nationality ”. The concept of nationality is narrower than the concept of the nation, because it only includes one of the components of the nation and, moreover, not the decisive one. The concept of the nation is much more comprehensive, because it includes the totality of socialist factors in unity with the ethnic [...]. The vast majority of the citizens of the GDR are Germans in terms of their origin, their language, their habits and traditions - in short, their ethnic characteristics, i.e. their nationality. The socialist nation in the GDR is of German nationality. "

For example, one could also be a “German citizen of Sorbian nationality”.

In post-communist states the practice still exists today to differentiate between citizenship and nationality and to note this in the official documents of their citizens.

In countries such as Russia and the People's Republic of China , a clear linguistic distinction is made between citizenship on the one hand and nationality on the other. So, the word rossi janin (dt. " Russ countries ") to all citizens of the Russian Federation regardless of their ethnic affiliation, while the adjective russkij that the ethnonym of the (large) Russians ( russkie ) was, however, exclusively for ethnic Russians used .

In China, Chinese citizens are called Zhōngguóren (dt. "People from the Central Plateau" or "People from the Middle Kingdom"), while the dominant Han Chinese are called Hànrén (dt. "People of the Han people") ( see also: Peoples of China ), and only in recent history has attempts been made to express a superordinate Chinese nationality ( Zhōnghuá Mínzú ).

Nationality as an assignment to a state

The term “nationality” is not only used to assign people to an ethnic group , but also to denote belonging to a ( national ) state defined as a “nation” . In this use of the term, nationality (English nationality , French nationalité ) is a synonym for nationality or citizenship , the latter in domestic law , especially in Western Europe . In this respect, the nation-state is mostly populated by people of the same nationality.

Term used in countries without a majority ethnicity

In countries like the USA and Canada , despite the different ethnic origins of its inhabitants and the lack of a majority ethnicity, one's own country is also referred to as a nation, and therefore American or Canadian nationality is spoken of. From the point of view of Americans and Canadians, the nation is the result of political and constitutional developments. With reference to Germany , Dolf Sternberger describes this understanding of the term “nation” as constitutional patriotism . A related concept here is the will nation .

Proponents of concepts of nationality based on ethnicity refer to such nations as multiethnic states .

It is disputed whether the long period of coexistence and the use of a common national language in the course of time create new ethnic groups (here: ethnic US-Americans or ethnic Canadians) and, insofar, also ethnically specific nationalities.

See also


Web links

Wiktionary: Nationality  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. See e.g. B. Schleswig-Holstein , where according to Articles 5 and 8 of the state constitution, the minorities of Danes , Frisians , Sinti and Roma are designated as national minorities and ethnic groups .
  2. a b Ingo von Münch : The German citizenship. Past present Future. De Gruyter, Berlin 2007, p. 107 .
  3. See the ethnic name "Russki" (coll.) For "Russian".
  4. Andreas Kappeler : Russian History , 6th edition, CH Beck, Munich 2014, p. 13 f.
  5. To this Klemens Ludwig : Multi-ethnic state China. The national minorities in the Middle Kingdom , CH Beck, Munich 2009, p. 13 ff.