Article

Nationalism

Cynthia Miller-Idriss and Christian Bracho

in Sociology

ISBN: 9780199756384
Published online July 2011 | | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/obo/9780199756384-0037
Nationalism

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Nationalism has been defined in a variety of ways, but definitions are always rooted in the nation, which most scholars agree emerged during the transition to the modern industrial age, supplanting monarchies and other kinds of prior communities and groups based on kinship or tribal ties. Initially, scholars saw nations as based on primordial attachments that were understood to exist as “given” through birth into a particular geographic community or ethnic group. This understanding has evolved into a view of “imagined communities” in which nations are based on a sense of attachment to one another among individuals dispersed across space and time and likely never to meet each other but who share customs, language, traditions, culture, or residence within a set of borders. Because these attachments are imagined by individuals and groups of individuals, neither nations nor the identities attached to them can be understood as essentialized, stable, or static. Instead, nations today are thought to be imagined, constructed, and negotiated. Nationalism exists in these moments of imagination and construction of the nation, which take many forms. The simple expression of national identity, efforts to make political and national units congruent, or xenophobic treatment of outsiders in favor of those deemed to belong to the nation are all examples of nationalist forms. Nationalism can be official and ceremonial (as in the singing of national anthems at presidential inaugurations) or banal (as in the quotidian nationalist symbols people encounter in their everyday lives, from national flags in school buildings to postage stamps displaying national heroes). Over the last several decades—particularly since a resurgence of interest in nationhood in the 1980s and 1990s—the focus of research has been on elite perspectives—that is, how the nation is mediated and constructed through parliamentary speeches, presidential speeches, or public school textbooks and curricula. More recently there has been a movement toward the study of everyday nationhood, which is discussed in greater detail in this article.

Article.  11169 words. 

Subjects: Sociology ; Comparative and Historical Sociology ; Economic Sociology ; Gender and Sexuality ; Health, Illness, and Medicine ; Population and Demography ; Race and Ethnicity ; Social Movements and Social Change ; Social Stratification, Inequality, and Mobility ; Social Theory

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