• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Nationalism. Where do nations come from? Are they natural or artificial formations?

Extracts from this document...


Where do nations come from? Are they natural or artificial formations? Nationalism is a very complex and vast ranging phenomenon, a significant number of theories have been proposed to explain its historical emergence and continued existence. Despite the number and wide range of available theories it would be very inaccurate to use any of the theories in isolation to explain and define the concept of nationalism, as it is such a broad and complex concept. This essay will focus on explaining the emergence of nations as well as examining the two different approaches to nationalism in relation to current issues. The two main theories that dominate the study of nationalism are the primordialist (pre-modernist) approach and the instrumentalist (modernist) approach (Uzelac, 2005:196). The primordialist approach believe that nations are natural, organic, inborn phenomena that occur spontaneously and stress that nationalism is historically ingrained and plays a critical role in man kinds organisational and social structure. (Smith,1998:87). It is natural for people to want to belong and be part of a community and according to primordialist ideology, it was this sense of belonging that prompted ...read more.


There are many arguments against the modernist approach including the fact that the power of nationalism can be attributed to the people's psychological insecurity about their identity as the world became modernised. Throughout history the fragmentation and differentiation of society has interfered with human interactions and undermined basic traditional and cultural values, which forced many people to adopt nationalist ideas as a way to regain and re-assert lost cultural and traditional values (Smith, 1986:77). Tradition therefore plays a crucial role in driving nationalism as traditional values represent major events in the history of a particular community and provide a sense of togetherness and security. One historian who is explicit in his disagreement with modernism is Adrian Hastings who, in reaction to the words of Hobsbawm (1992:5) that "The nation is a very recent newcomer in human history" describes this view as "absolutely misleading" and if we assume the rightful place of the nation to be exclusively in the modern period, we will "undermine an understanding not only of nations and nationalism but also of a millennium of European history". ...read more.


EJ Hobsbawn was an advocate for the modernist approach and he believed that the populist cultural renaissance provided the foundation for subsequent nationalist movements. Hobsbawm insists that nationalism can only be considered nationalism when it acquires "at least some of the mass support that nationalists always claim they represent" and therefore his work is, for the most part, concerned with the nineteenth century as he describes the late eighteenth century as being "swept by the romantic passion for the pure, simple and uncorrupted peasantry". (Hobsbawm, 1992:206) Nationalism is a very complex and intertwined phenomenon and is very much open to interpretation depending on certain individuals. With this in mind, it is very difficult to specify the factors which allowed for the rise of nationalism as nationalism is not a concept that can easily be defined, I would be inclined, however, to conclude that nationalism, as a political movement, did not exist before the late eighteenth century. This conclusion is based primarily on the fact that there is not sufficient evidence to cater for nationalism before the late eighteenth century being an active political movement. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level Political Philosophy section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level Political Philosophy essays

  1. Marxism, Idealism and Nationalism

    The bourgeois represented the base of material interest. The relationship between the two eventually becomes exploitative because the members of the superstructure do not own productive property, nor do they control the means of production. All they can offer is their human labor for essential needs. Today some of these concepts still apply to our world, and some do not.

  2. Why has the Parti Socialiste come to dominate the French Left?

    Thus, as the Cold War continued, it can be assumed that those living in Western countries such as France no longer felt inclined to offer their support for a domestic political party that based its policies around the same ideological framework as the USSR.

  1. "Fascism is nothing more than an extreme form of Nationalism". Discuss

    Nazism contained more of the elements of traditional nationalism, for example emphasising common aspects of culture and race, whereas Italian fascism is more economically based. The Nazi approach is far more extreme than traditional nationalism, for example the persecution of Jews simply because of their racial identity.

  2. T difficult for export orientated economics to sustain the land owning elites much longer. ...

    The politics that did take place was done so with a lot of fraud and deception used to gain political leverage. Another factor was the landowning elite's inability to distribute the wealth gained through export orientated development, this was causing tension between them and the growing middle and lower classes

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work