Etienne Balibar and Immanuel Wallerstein, in Race,Nation, Class:Ambiguous Identities, explore the ways in which notions ofrace, class and nationhood are constructed and how these notions affect theconstruction of peoplehood. They explicate the specificity of racism incontemporary society and the ways in which ideas such as class division andcapitalism related to racism and how the idea of a nation state is constructed.They examine the ways in which racism helps people to redefine the notions ofclass struggle and nationalism. They try to bring around the debate about theclassification of people and nation.
While Balibar focuses on the evolution ofthe nation form, Wallerstein aims to define the fundamental position which thenational superstructure inhabits amidst other political institutions in theworld economy. Consequently , they bring the same distinctions to theircomprehension of class struggle and national formation. To be exceptionallyillustrative, one might argue that Balibar’s orientation comprises of markinghistorical class struggles in the nation formation, in contrast or comparisonwith the fact that wallerstein’s stance delineates the nation, with otherforms, in the domain of class struggle.This is where, without any question, the definition of theidea, ‘social formations’,comes into picture. Wallerstein puts forward thatthere is a need to differentiate three significant historical procedures of theestablishment of ‘people’: race, nation and ethnicity, which connects withvarious forms of the world economy; he draws attention to the historical splitamidst the ‘bourgeois’ state, which happens to denote the ‘nation state’ andearlier constructions of the state, for according to Wallerstein, the very ideaof a state is ambiguous. For Balibar, he is in quest of distinguishing thetransformation of the pre-national to the national state, he attributes crucialsignificance to another of Wallerstein’s notions, specifically plurality ofpolitical forms in the course of the immanent stage of the world economy.Balibar presents the predicament of the construction of the people in terms of fictiveethnicity, as a drawback of interior hegemony and he strives to examine thepart involved in its construction by the establishments which in several or different ways provides framework to the language community and therace community. As a consequence of these disparities, it appears to one thatWallerstein is well versed in describing the ethnicization of minorities incontrast or comparison with the fact that Balibar is good at elucidating theethnicization of majorities.
What is evident ,nevertheless, is that itseems to be to the same extent or degree and crucial for us to be of theopinion that ‘nation’ and ‘people’ are historical ideas, by way of whichcontemporary established institutions and animosities can be propelled into thehistory to grant or bestow a comparative reason or rationality on thecommunities on which the perception of independent ‘identity’ is contingent on.