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Nationalism as a Political Occurrence Essay

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Updated: May 7th, 2019

What is Nationalism?

Nationalism can be described as a political occurrence that can exist in several ways. Nationalism is continued by certain agents and is subject to many views. James Kellas described nationalism in international relations as an origin of crisis, an origin of resistance to the state system in existence, a resistance to international establishments, and an indicator of a country’s capability in regard to international affairs (43).

Nationalism has been variously interpreted to imply the creation and continuation of a state. Anthony Smith recognized five ways of using nationalism: the entire procedure of developing and preserving a nation; a source of sense of belonging and patriotism to the nation; symbolization to the nation; a political orientation of the nation, which includes cultural doctrines; a political and societal struggle for the achievement of national goals (181).

Nationalism could be considered a way of conduct or an ideology or both (Smith 4). In the sense of ideology, nationalism stands as a system of ideas normally requiring rights of self-governance. In this respect, nationalism declares the peculiarity of a certain nation and their right to rule themselves in their territory (Easman 28).

This classical description presumes that nationalism is based on the nation and the right of the nation to determine for itself in their homeland. However, the application of nationalism is mostly narrowed to the quest of nationhood where a particular nation moves to stand for a state that has chosen to be considered as politically disparate. This ideology has caused a movement for independence.

In another view, Walker Connor contends that nationalism is a matter of trueness and allegiance (42). In this regard, the ideology of nationalism is concerned with the faithfulness to the nation and how it’s several aspects of attributes and values can be preserved. Walker Connor supports the view of nationalism as a display of allegiance to the nation (42).

Hence, nationalism is not against a people’s loyalty to their state-nation. Small or large groups can be faithful to the laws of the state however be loyal to their premier identity source, which is their national or ethnic identity. This peculiarity is striking in countries having multinational states, as there is a distinction between the nation and the state.

Connor argues that nationalism is faithfulness and allegiance to the nation, whereas Easman contends that it is faithfulness and allegiance to the community. Hence, it can be seen that nationalism is a manifestation of what is termed “ethnic solidarity”. Ethnocentric attitudes as well as nationalist sentiments make up a vital aspect of nationalism. The way a nationalist behaves and its manner of consideration is strengthened and supported through “mechanisms of socialization” (Evans and Newnham 347).

A Brief Typology of Nationalism

In the analysis of the conditions in the presentation of nationalism, it can be seen that it basically explains certain aspects of nationalism. Even though it is generally accepted that research on nationalism is still far away from improving a desired typology or normative use. James Kellas gave three broad approaches that give a description of nationalism: state/official nationalism, ethnic nationalism, and civic/social nationalism (66).

Official nationalism is the state’s nationalism that covers all legal citizens, regardless of their ethnic origin and tradition (Kellas 67). This is the type of nationalism that is practiced by the citizens in the form of patriotism. There is a difference between official nationalism and other forms of nationalism in the sense that it is practiced by government authorities at the state level via internal policies.

Hence, nationalism is in this case, defined in regard to national interest. Therefore, state nationalism is based on patriotism to the nation and the intention of the citizens to affiliate the political status of the state with the nation. This makes the state a political entity that stands for the will of every citizen that also brings together their national allegiance and loyalty.

Ethnic nationalism represents the ideology and social movement of cultural groups that one of its priority goals is building a “nation-state” founded on their cultural heritage and other ethnic markers that reinforces a feeling of belonging to what the group consider a nation.

On another front, ethnic nationalism may be concentrated on sustaining the group’s “ethnic solidarity” and look forward to the preservation of its culture via district, ethnical and political self-governance inside a certain state. In this regard, the movement for the continuation of a cultural identity is perceived as a manifestation of an ethnic nationalism.

According to James Kellas, civic or social nationalism is the nationalism of a state that is determined by cultural and social affiliations instead of shared descent (66). In contrast to ethnic nationalism, civic or social nationalism has to do with “secondary community” instead of a “primary community” (Thompson 49).

In the civic or social nationalism, foreigners can take part in the group by adopting their culture and adjusting to the society. This type of nationality is one that is gotten by immigrants. The cultural or national groups are required to wholly incorporate the new nation and also comply with the nation’s standards, after the acquisition of citizenship.

Works Cited

Connor, Walker. Etnonacionalismo. Madrid: Trama Editorial, 1998. Print.

Easman, Milton J. Ethnic Politics. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1994. Print.

Evans, Graham, and Jeffrey Newnham. The Penguin Dictionary of International Relations. New York: Penguin Books Ltd., 1998. Print.

Kellas, James G. The Politics of Nationalism and Ethnicity. 2nd ed. New York: St. Martin’s Press Inc., 1998. Print.

Smith, Anthony D. Structure and Persistence of Ethnic. Malden: Polity Press, 2003. Print.

Thompson, Richard H. Theories of Ethnicity. Westport: Greenwood Press, 1989. Print.

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