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POLITICAL SOCIOLOGY NATIONALISM Does the concept of 'nationalism' refer to a single phenomenon?
Imagined Communities - Reflections of the Origins and Spread of Nationalism: B.Anderson
- Hobsbawm has said that 'Marxist movements and states have tended to become national not only in form but in substance, i.e. nationalist'.
- Anderson defines nationalism as an imagined political community, inherently limited and sovereign1. It is imagined, because most members of a nation will never know each other, let alone share conventional community with them. The Sources and Consequences of National Identification: R.M. Kunovich
- There are a variety of anthropological strands which make up the thread of national identity. Some arguments, notably those of Jones and Smith (2001), hold that people divide attributes of national identity into ethnic and civic dimensions as they construct and reconstruct the nation-state. Others, notably Medrano (2005), argue that people prefer a credential list version of national identity, which utilises available attributes to exclude others. In studies of nationalism, the units of analysis are generally political and cultural elites, state policies, and events, rather than individuals. Nationalism is defined by Smith (1991) as 'an ideological movement for retaining and maintaining autonomy, unity and identity on behalf of a population deemed by some of its members to constitute an actual or potential nation'.
- Kunovich surveyed Americans seeking their views on what constituted a 'true' American. The majority of those questioned believed that it was either 'very important' or 'fairly important' to have been born in America, be a citizen, speak English, respect the state's laws, and have American ancestry; a significant minority also thought that adherence to Christianity was a significant indicator of Americanism2.
- The respondents were divided into pluralists, ethnic nationalists, civic nationalists, and multiple nationalists; the last two groups were the largest by far.
- Development, democratic governance, and economic and cultural globalisation are associated with lower levels of national identity.
- Kunovich examined survey data from 31 nations. He found that ties were based upon perceived collective interest.
- Analysis of nationalism usually focuses on the policies of states, but to be effective these policies must be germane to citizens.
- There is also a strong relationship between national identity and socio-economic status, with a growing tendency for those from similar socio-economic groups to feel affiliation beyond state borders. However, economic competition can promote racial antagonism and lead to attempts to exclude minorities.
- In his study of contemporary American attitudes, Kunovich found that very few respondents were ethnic nationalists (<3%), whereas the majority considered themselves multiple nationalists or civic nationalists3.
- Higher household income and educational attainment was associated with lower levels of national identification. Nations with a high degree of democratic governance exhibited the same trend.
- Despite the focus on political elites, some research (Bollen and Medrano, 1998) focuses on an individual basis amongst the masses for the preferences of national identity content; the individual characteristics most often used to explain preferences for national identity content include socio 1 Imagined Communities - Reflections on the Origins and Spread of Nationalism: B. Anderson 2 The Sources and Consequences of National Identification: R.M. Kunovich 3 The Sources and Consequences of National Identification: R.M. Kunovich
economic status and majority or minority status. Rational choice theory is usually applied to explain the relationship between the preferred content of national identity and socio economic status. Here, lower socio economic status individuals seem to prefer an ethnic form of national identity over the civic form, due to the consequences of splits Labour market theory. This argues that economic competition promotes greater ethnic antagonism, resulting in attempts to exclude minorities. The Decline of Nationalisms Within Western Europe: M. Dogan
- Western European nations are in a post-nationalistic phase, aspiring to a supranational state as a result of their extreme levels of integration; nationalist sentiment within these nations is being steadily eroded4.
- Dogan refers to nationalism as devotion to one's country so strong that it overcomes all other bonds of affiliation, including religious.
- Racism and nationalism are different notions, overlapping only marginally.
- Nationalist foreign policy will always place domestic interests over collective security.
- Under different circumstances, nationalistic values can be those of the left or right.
- Balibar and Wallerstein argue that nationalism functions as a chain, in that it moves from civic mindedness to patriotism, populism, ethnicity, ethnocentrism, xenophobia, chauvinism, imperialism, and finally to jingoism5.
- Dogan sees the French Revolution as vital for the dissemination of nationalistic ideas across Western Europe, and ultimately to the rest of the world; he sees it as a uniquely European ideological construct.
- Because of the decline in nationalist sentiment, modern governments are less able to coerce their citizens into collective action, including that necessary to fight a major inter-state conflict.
- Dogan sees nationalistic attributes developing through five stages.
- Nations whose people remain loyal to primordial ties, and have not yet acquired national sentiment. These nations tend to be the world's poorest nations, and are in a "pre-nationalistic phase".
- Modernising countries, or the richest amongst the poor countries of the world, are relatively young nations achieving independence only recently. Dogan argues that they are the most nationalistic in general, and that it took a long time for this process to mature for Britain, France, and Spain.
- The 3rd type of nation is most commonly found in Western Europe, where national maturity as developed from the 2nd type of country, is followed by an erosion of nationalistic feelings; "the distance between these mature nations, already immunised against nationalism, and those still experiencing nationalistic fever should be measured not in kilometres but in generations" (page 284).
- This type of country is characterised by resurrection of nationalism after a long period of totalitarianism or foreign subjugation; it is generally located in Eastern Europe.
- Lastly, nations where the roots of nationhood not based on ancestral soil, but on an implanted population; nationalism consequentially takes on a novel form in these countries, and the US and Australia are examples of this.
- Dogan argues that there are 5 key indicators of national pride: 1) Pride in one's nation In only 3 countries - Greece, Ireland, and Spain - did an absolute majority possess a narcissistic nationalism; all 3 of these nations have had a turbulent national histories which are still present in the collective memory.
Notably, in Britain in 1981, 1982, 1983, and 1985, there was a strong narcissistic nationalism which was in a majority; this had fallen to a plurality by 1988 and 1991.
4 The Decline of Nationalism Within Western Europe: M. Dogan 5 The Decline of Nationalism Within Western Europe: M. Dogan
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