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Critically evaluate theories of nationalism and its relationship with racism - Essay Example

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NATIONALISM THEORIES AND RACISM By Institution 20th, March, 2013 The concept of nationalism is believed to have first emerged during the French Revolution in the eighteenth century. During this period, states and boundaries were existent, but nations did not utilize them to their benefit…
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Critically evaluate theories of nationalism and its relationship with racism
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Download file to see previous pages . . Where the sentiment of nationality exists in any force, there is prima facie case for uniting all the members of the nationality under the same government, and a government to themselves apart.” Nationalism cannot be termed as either good or bad, just like the phenomena of socialism, capitalism, or imperialism. Nonetheless, in a good nationality, citizens strive to ensure that their nation is maintained. On the other hand, in bad nationalism, a nation only considers its superiority, and acts against other nationalities in order to remain superior (Smith 2010). Examples of past leaders who perpetuated bad nationality include Slobodan Milosevic and Adolf Hitler. Therefore, nationality is a factor that can cause unification or lead to disintegration. Today, there are various theories of nationalism, which attempt to explain the phenomenon of nationality in different contexts. According to Conversi (1995), these theories can be divided into different categories, namely the ethno-symbolic, transactional, and homeostatic. However, this categorization was made basing on those theories, which put an emphasis on the boundary mechanisms of nations. Here, Conversi dismisses the traditional categorizations of instrumentalism and primordialism, since these might not apply to modern nationalism (Conversi 1995). Primordialist and sociobiological theories of nationalism are some of the universal theories applied to nationalism. In the primordialist perspective, it is believed that nationalism confers some form of group identity to the members of a nation. A nation is compared to a society, and therefore, just like the society, a nation is characterized by irrational attachments of people, which are based on race, blood, language, among others. Today, most countries, especially those in the third world, have embraced their group identities, which are evident in their communities and ethnic groups. Geertz was a contributor to the theory of primordialism. According to Geertz, the factor of identity in the primordialist approach is natural. These identities are coercive, therefore, cannot be understood basing on people’s social interactions. Finally, he asserted that these identities base on affection and might make the involved people sentimental (Conversi 1995). Another contributor to the primordialist approach was Harold Isaacs. According to Harold, people are normally born into a specific group of people or society at a particular time in history. Therefore, upon being born, each person acquires an identity, similar to that of the group in which they are born. Harold also identified various elements of the identity, which an individual gains. First, he identified the physical factors of skin color, hair type, body size, and type of face, among others. Secondly, he identified the name that is given to an individual. Mostly, people are given family names, and other names common in their group. In addition, a person’s first language identifies them with a specific group of people. Harold also identified the elements of religion, culture, nationality, or ethnic affiliation, the geography of a person’s area of birth, and the history of the group a person is born into, as factors, which grant a person a form of identity (Harris 2009). On the other hand, the sociobiological approach bases on human behavior, in its explanation of nationalism. This bases on three factors, namely, kin selection, reciprocity, and coercion to investigate human ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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