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Nationalism and civil society: democracy, diversity and self-determination

Calhoun, Craig (1994) Nationalism and civil society: democracy, diversity and self-determination. In: Moore, John, (ed.) Legacies of the Collapse of Marxism. George Mason University Press, Fairfax, VA, USA, pp. 81-106. ISBN 0913969710

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In the wake of communism, nationalism has regained prominence as a source of global tension and instability. These problems, and nationalism itself, are often dismissed as transitional difficulties rather than studied as basic to the modern world. This paper argues, to the contrary, that nationalism is produced by central features of the modern world, including the ongoing process of globalisation. Its centrality derives first of all from the need to identify the `self' implied by the notion of political self-determination. This ties nationalism to democracy. But nationalism is also shaped in problematic ways by modern individualism. Metaphorically, the nation is often treated as an individual. Nations are also commonly conceived of as categories of like individuals rather than as webs of social relationships. This places an emphasis on sameness which often makes nationalism an enemy of diversity. It also provides the basis for arguments that national identity should take precedence over other competing identities - regional, familial, gender, interest-group, occupational, and so on. Nationalism is particularly potent and problematic where diverse institutions of civil society are lacking or fail to provide for a diversity of public discourses and collective identities.

Item Type: Book Section
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 1993 George Mason University Press
Divisions: LSE
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
J Political Science > JA Political science (General)
Date Deposited: 05 Sep 2012 15:07
Last Modified: 15 Sep 2023 08:44

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