Nationalism: Meaning, Types, Explained with Examples

nationalism meaning and types

Nationalism can be defined as a political ideology that is on the principle and premise of the fact that a particular individual’s allegiance and sense of loyalty for the nation-state surpasses their individuality or any other specific group interest. The concept of nationalism came into mainstream usage since the American and French revolutions where a sense of belonging was established and nationality identity came around to overpower the other domains of an individual’s existence. This feeling of nationalism was further accentuated and begun to develop in different parts of the world after colonisation and when the countries began to break free of the coloniser’s oppression. For example- When the sense of Indian nationalism begun to grow when the Indians begun to realise the patterns of exploitation done by the Britishers and then going beyond their own identity or region a collective movement asserting the Indian national identity was formed.

Types of nationalism

Nationalism can be defined in several ways and each possess certain distinct characteristics which define each one of them:

Ethnic Nationalism-

It relies on the element of ethnicity and involves the element of genophilia (generational descent). This type of ethnic nationalism grows with the sense of shared ancestry, language and culture and is extremely region-specific. The state also derives a sense of legitimacy from the people who reside in it and call it their homeland. For example- the Israeli identity and the nation-state of Israel is highly influenced by this kind of ethnic nationalism and the region is very specific to defining its identity.

Civic nationalism-

This kind of nationalism is defined by the active participation of the citizens residing within it and defines a sense of belonging through voluntary participation and the state also receives its political legitimacy through its people. It is this form of nationalism that defines the state of representative democracy. For example- France as a nation is based on these principles where through commonly agreed-upon principles and through elections the country forms its government which oversees the functioning of the nation and ensures a sense of security to their citizens who vote for their government through electoral voting.

Expansionist nationalism-

This has the characteristic features of chauvinism where there is a complete dismissal of the needs of self-determination of the other nations and tries to exercise their power over the same. It opposes a liberal sense of belief absolutely opposed to diversity, social upliftment and inclusion. For example- the movement of islamo-fascism which went beyond the beliefs of Islam aiming to bind the community together but also simultaneously treating women in a degrading fashion and the monopoly of power by the caliphate are its characteristics.

Cultural nationalism-

This is defined neither by being purely ethnic or civic in nature but based off more on the share cultural beliefs of a community. This isn’t voluntary but more on the traditional culture which shapes the life of the individual from childhood and defined their outlook. For example, Catalan nationalism which attempted to establish a federal state in Spain based off their separate ideals.

Revolutionary nationalism-

Revolutionary nationalism as the name suggests aims to establish a sense of nationalism that propagates the idea of a shared sense of community and brings about a sense of similar purpose. This was highlighted by the sense of nationals brought forth with Benito Mussolini in France and Italy around the 20th century which brings about a sense of radical nationalism and a dissent-like form of socialism.

Also Read: Black Nationalism Movement

Postcolonial nationalism-

After World War II, there has been an emerging trend of third-world nationalism. The countries have forged their identities as a nation especially under the oppression of the colonisers. Their characteristic feature is to be recognised for their own individual histories and stories instead of the coloniser’s narrative which paints them a certain way they want to and give them no control over their narrative. For example- The African post-colonial nationalism where they have come forth and spoken of their oppressions and truth- ranging from slavery to segregation refusing to accept or acknowledge the colonisers version of histories.

Left-wing nationalism-

It can be defined as the kind of nationalism which combines the element of nationalism and socialism and morphs itself into a revolution of sorts to bing about a change at a societal- level and bring about that change in functioning. For example- Fiedel Castro’s Cuban revolution was brought up to dismantle the Batista government and establish a socialist regime in Cuba.

Liberal nationalism-

It can be defined as the sense of nationalism which combines the values of being inclusive, tolerant and equal and binds together communities with these shared values as core principles to defining this kind of nationalism. It was first proposed by John Stuart Mill who introduced the concept that an individual needs a sense of national identity to survive and the only mode of politics that allows an individual to have that sense of identity well is through liberal democratic politics.

Ending remarks

More often than not nationalism is determined as a term which is extremely chauvinistic in nature. It is highlighted to understand that the nation’s identity goes beyond their understanding of an individual’s very own needs. However, nationalism shouldn’t be read in that context solely. Nationalism also helps in bringing about a sense of identification and community feeling for the larger nation-state and highly drives an individual to build their motives and politics regarding certain issues. If the sense of nationalism is imparted in a healthy fashion it can prove to be highly effective for the betterment and the growth of the nation. On the other hand, there is no denying that several leaders around the world have also roused feelings of nationalism and brought about discrimination and hatered among the people. For nationalism as a sense of identity to be effective the country and its people need to evaluate how the current contexts pertain to them.

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