But the emphasis of his research has shifted from looking at extreme forms of ideology towards looking at the influence of ideology on common-sense, or everyday patterns of thinking. Banal Nationalism, published in , is a result of this shift. Main theoretical issue : Begins his book with a paradox : States that Breton separatists, National Front or guerilleros are considered as nationalists but not Bush, even when bombing Irak! He regrets that the standard definitions of nationalism tend to locate nationalism as something beyond, or prior to, the established nation-state. He notices that no alternative term is offered for the ideological complex which maintains the nation-state ex : He regrets for example that Hroch seminal study2 describes three stages of nationalism, but that there are no further stages to describe what happens to nationalism once the nation-state is established.
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Every time, debates, discussions, controversies and even wars arise because of these powerful ideas. In this particular post, I do not write anything new. This post simply tries to provide a helpful introduction to the scholarly views of nations and nationalism. These are sourced from The Nationalism Project. I hope you find it useful not only as a student of Political Science or Sociology, but as a conscious human being willing to understand the world better.
Instead, Billig argues that nationalism is omnipresent- often unexpressed, but always ready to be mobilized in the wake of catalytic events. It always seems to locate nationalism on the periphery. Separatists are often to be found in the outer regions of states; the extremists lurk on the margins of political life in established democracies, usually shunned by the sensible politicians of the centre.
The guerrilla figures, seeking to establish their new homelands, operate in conditions where existing structures of state have collapsed, typically at a distance from the established centres of the West. From the perspective of Paris, peripherally placed on the edge of Europe. All these factors combine to make nationalism not merely an exotic force, but a peripheral one.
In a world of nation-states, nationalism cannot be confined to the peripheries. That might be conceded, but still it might be objected that nationalism only strikes the established nation-states on special occasions.
Crises, such as the Falklands or Gulf Wars, infect a sore spot, causing bodily fevers: the symptoms are an inflamed rhetoric and an outbreak of ensigns. But the irruption soon dies down; the temperature passes; the flags are rolled up; and, then, it is business as usual. It is argued that these habits are not removed from everyday life, as some observers have supposed.
Nationalism, far from being an intermittent mood in established nations, is the endemic condition. However, as will be suggested, nationhood provides a continual background for their political discourses, for cultural products, and even for the structuring of newspapers. In so many little ways, the citizenry are daily reminded of their national place in a world of nations. However, this reminding is so familiar, so continual, that it is not consciously registered as reminding.
The metonymic image of banal nationalism is not a flag which is being consciously waved with fervent passion; it is the flag hanging unnoticed on the public building. Consequently, an identity is to be found in the embodied habits of social life.
Such habits include those of thinking and using language. To have a national identity is to possess ways of talking about nationhood. As a number of critical social psychologists have been emphasizing, the social psychological study of identity should involve the detailed study of discourse…. Having a national identity also involves being situated physically, legally, socially, as well as emotionally: typically, it means being situated within a homeland, which itself is situated within the world of nations.
And, only if people believe that they have national identities, will such homelands, and the world of national homelands, be reproduced. Because the concept of nationalism has been restricted to exotic and passionate exemplars, the routine and familiar forms of nationalism have been overlooked.
There is a growing body of opinion that nation-states are declining. Nationalism, or so it is said, is no longer a major force: globalization is the order of the day. But a reminder is necessary. Nationhood is still being reproduced: it can still call for ultimate sacrifices; and, daily, its symbols and assumptions are flagged.
Banal Nationalism. London: Sage Publications, Except necessary changes, all the contents of this post are sourced from The Nationalist Project. You can read more about the project HERE.
Tag: banal nationalism
Banal nationalism refers to the everyday representations of the nation which build a shared sense of national belonging amongst humans, a sense of tribalism though national identity. The concept has been highly influential, particularly within the discipline of political geography , with continued academic interest since its publication in the s. Examples of banal nationalism include the use of flags in everyday contexts, sporting events , national songs , symbols on money,  popular expressions and turns of phrase, patriotic clubs, the use of implied togetherness in the national press, for example, the use of terms such as the prime minister, the weather, our team, and divisions into "domestic" and "international" news. Many of these symbols are most effective because of their constant repetition, and almost subliminal nature. Banal nationalism is often created via state institutions such as schools. He argued that the academic and journalistic focus on extreme nationalists, independence movements, and xenophobes in the s and s obscured the modern strength and the most common strain of contemporary nationalism, by implying that it was a fringe ideology. He argues that the "hidden" nature of modern nationalism makes it a very powerful ideology, partially because it remains largely unexamined and unchallenged, yet remains the basis for powerful political movements, and most political violence in the world today.
Billig has written a well-documented and provocative book in which he challenges a commonly neglected aspect of nationalism: its crucial role as an ideology related not only to the foundation of the nation-state but also to its daily reproduction. In countries like Britain and the United States, we may think of nationalism as a problem for "them", meaning people in faraway places. But according to Billig, "our" nationalism is omnipresent. It can surface at moments such as the conflicts with Galtieri or Saddam only because it is so pervasive, reinforced in countless idle moments by limp flags outside post offices, or by the way the media present the weather forecast. Billig thinks that if we are to understand "hot", "surplus" expressions of nationalism in the contemporary world, then it behoves us to pay careful attention to the apparently benign, banal "flaggings" of nationalism in "the daily dexis" of our homelands He criticizes "common sense sociology" for its equation of society with nation, and chides social psychologists for approaching national identity as just another type of group identity, without probing further into its history and distinctive features.
Instead, Billig argues that nationalism is omnipresent - often unexpressed, but always ready to be mobilized in the wake of catalytic events. It always seems to locate nationalism on the periphery. Separatists are often to be found in the outer regions of states; the extremists lurk on the margins of political life in established democracies, usually shunned by the sensible politicians of the centre. The guerrilla figures, seeking to establish their new homelands, operate in conditions where existing structures of state have collapsed, typically at a distance from the established centres of the West. From the perspective of Paris, peripherally placed on the edge of Europe.