Michael Billig presents a major challenge to orthodox conceptions of nationalism in this elegantly written book. While traditional theorizing has tended to the focus on extreme expressions of nationalism, the author turns his attention to the everyday, less visible forms which are neither exotic or remote, he describes as `banal nationalism'.
The author asks why people do not forget their national identity. He suggests that in daily life nationalism is constantly flagged in the media through routine symbols and habits of language. Banal Nationalism is critical of orthodox theories in sociology, politics and social psychology for ignoring this core feature of national identity. Michael Billig argues forcefully that with nationalism continuing to be a major ideological force in the contemporary world, it is all the more important to recognize those signs of nationalism which are so familiar that they are easily overlooked.
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Daily, they are reproduced as nations and their citizenry as nationals. And these
nations are reproduced within a wider world of nations. For such daily
reproduction to occur, one might hypothesize that a whole complex of beliefs,
Nationhood is still being reproduced: it can still call for ultimate sacrifices; and,
daily, its symbols and assumptions are flagged. The investigation of banal
nationalism should be a critical study. The gaps in language, which enable banal
Instead, nationalism is broadened as a concept to cover the ways that
established nation-states are routinely reproduced. This frequently involves a '
banal' nationalism, in contrast with the overt, articulated and often fiercely
If the world of nations is to be reproduced, then nationhood has to be imagined,
communicated, believed in, remembered and so on. An infinite variety of
psychological acts is required for the reproduction of nation- states. These
... to a surplus phenomenon and which forgets to analyse how established nation
-states are daily reproduced as nations. ... reproduced is to be remembered, as
are the habits of thought which have encouraged a neglect of this reproduction.
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Michael Billig mounts a critic to orthodox theories in sociology, politics and social psychology by arguing that although nationalism continues to be a major ideological force in contemporary world ... Read full review
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