As briefly indicated in the above, ethnic and religious plurality constitute a potential threat to the very notion of the welfare state and its associate welfare citizenship. Plurality, implying conflict and difference, is antithetical to the very principles upon which the welfare state is predicated; the principles of shared identity, commonality and homogeneity. Even while conceding to the reality of the stated threat, however, this research will posit the claim that the management of plurality through multiculturalism has the potential to control and limit this threat.
Understanding the extent to which ethnic plurality and religious diversity can function as a threat to the welfare state, is predicated on an appreciation of the implications of nation-hood and the social citizenry to which it gave rise. If the idea of the nation was invented, imported, and implemented by elites, it had also to appeal to the rest of the population who had not known dignity before the age of nationalism. Weber observes that "the idea of the nation for its advocates stands in very intimate relation to [their] prestige interests" (Weber 1978: 9251530). While the dominant political strata, such as feudal lords, modern officers, and bureaucrats are the primary exponents of a desire for the political power of the state, since "power for their political community means [political, economic, and social] power for themselves" (Weber 1978: 911/520), it is those who appropriate leadership in a community of culture, the "carriers of culture." who promote the idea of a nation (Weber 1978: 9261530). These are, for Weber, primarily intellectuals, but also artists, editors, authors, journalists, etc. (Weber 1946a: 1791485). While, originally, the "masses" had little to gain and little to lose within the political project of the state, or within the "cultural" mission of the nation (Weber 1978: 9211527, 9251530), they can increasingly identify with the nation-state's prestige due to the "democratization of state, society and culture" (Weber 1946: 1781485). The implication here is that the nation emerged as an imagined entity but attained concrete reality because of a shared social identity, a common culture which, in turn, gave rise to shared historical memories and heritage. In other words, the state is inherently founded upon shared social identity and it is the latter which gave rise to the nation, and not vice-versa. Within the context of the stated, the nation may very well be an imagined entity but it, nonetheless, bestows identity upon its populace (Greenfield, 1992).
Citizenship derives from the nation which, in turn, emerged as a direct outcome of