Ernest Gellner put forth the idea that the nation is only a socially conceived “construct,” an artificially created entity with the possibility of continued existence contingent upon the continuation of the perpetuation of the concept by the nation’s elites.4 He believes that nations and nationalism are not somehow revealed by historical events, but rather that they are fabricated concepts. In a style accessible to the student and the general reader he traces the changing view of this hotly discussed topic within the current political, cultural and socioeconomic arena. Benedict Anderson changed the way the debate between primordialism and constructivism was framed by introducing his three paradoxes of nation defining and then navigating those paradoxes with his notion of an imagined, limited, and sovereign community. It is a shifting phenomenon and the result of social thought. The most common form of theories on nations and nationalism are based around modernity. Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism. He was heavily influenced by the social constructivist movement during the spread of socialism and its subsequent collapse and his work must be viewed in this political context. Mgab. Hobsbawm’s special brand of Marxist-constructivist thought precludes the existence of objective nationalism or a nationalist historian, as nationalist thought is fundamentally unsound. 8 No. This does not mean, however, that Hobsbawm has no tangible theory of nationalism (Hobsbawm: 1990 9-10); Hobsbawm defines nationalism as the ideology that the political and national units should coincide. Revision:Ernest gellners modernist theory of nationalism Gellner defines nationalism as " a political principle which holds that that political and the national unit should be congruent ". Ernest Gellner’s is the best-known modernist explanatory theory of nationalism. In the immense field of scholarly work regarding defining nationhood, a raging debate exists between the conservative view of … Anderson believes that the nation is imagined because members of this nation don’t know most of their compatriots but still have a communal image; it is built based on recognition of commonality, not the commonality itself. Modernist Theory of Nationalism as can be seen with the reestablishment of a Scottish Parliament in 1997. While Gellner attempts to disabuse people of the notion of a “perennial” or mythologized nation, he also holds with the atypical (for a national constructivist) idea that the nation is necessary and legitimate.6 He believes that nations are conceived and perpetuated in large part by societal elites, but does not agree with the widespread constructivist notion that nations are deliberately created to empower the self-serving elites. Hobsbawm worked under the cloud of “a lesser McCarthyism” existing in the United Kingdom during the Cold War and his Marxist theories were considered radical enough to preclude him from receiving offers of university positions.14. Disclaimer: content on this website is for informational purposes only. Thank you for your attention! For Hobsbawm, the idea of a pre-existing nation is a myth and those who subscribe to that school of thought are unfit for scholarly activities. [5] He saw the history of humanity culminating in the discovery of modernity, nationalism being a key functional element. He listed three… Specifically, it cannot adapt to the strong democracies in which extreme right parties operate, nor to the ideology of radical Islamic groups. This ideology is to be understood by great masses of people, and it is about how to use power within a society. "Theories of Nationalism: A Brief Comparison of Realist and Constructivist Ideas of the Nation." ISSN: 2153-5760. His opinion is influenced by his chosen specialty and case study as well as by the existing constructivist sentiments at the time. Hobsbawm states that, in order to understand the nation, it must be analyzed from a bottom-up perspective. modernist theories had statistically significant results, which do not always support the corresponding hypotheses. The newsletter highlights recent selections from the journal and useful tips from our blog. "It is an imagined community—and imagined as both inherently limited and sovereign". Siam Mapped: A History of the Geo-body of a Nation. Some Chinese intellectuals, like Lu Xun, attacked Confucianism believing it to be one of the sources of China’s failure to modernize... Fascism cannot adapt to, and exist under, certain prominent, contemporary conditions. His interpretation of nationalism is affected by the Thai history of nationalism and his experiences as a dissenter. [2], Gellner is considered one of the leading theoreticians on nationalism. The nation is not natural or pre-existing, but it is necessary for uniting state with culture. According to the modernist theory of nationalism (Leoussi, 2001), a series of structural developments, tied to the era of industrialization, necessitated the growth of universal “high culture” through which modern ideals and the idea of civic nation is defined and diffused from a Western core to other parts of the world. Over the years, the emergence of right-wing... China’s rise as a global power has major implications for the future of free speech and media censorship both within and outside the People’s Republic. Eriksen notes that "nobody contests Ernest Gellner's central place in the research on nationalism over the last few decades". Elliott, Gregory. The specificity of the case studies used to generate theories of nationalism also served as a bias, due to the difficulty inherent in a universal theory of defining the nation derived from unique and specific cases. London: Verso, 1991. Critique of Modernist Theories of Nationalism' Philip S. Gorski University of Wisconsin, Madison Most theorists of nationalism are modernists: they regard national-ism as an essentially modern phenomenon. Thongchai expanded the idea of artificiality as a component of the nation by applying it to what is arguably the most tangible aspect of the nation, its borders and territory, driving the debate even further away from the conservative primordial explanation. "From the Archives: Eugene Genovese on Eric Hobsbawm." Web. This comparison will result in establishing the main points of each theory in the form of testable hypotheses. Down the ballot, across state and local elected offices, women are underrepresented in their communities. N.p., n.d. This article takes issue with the modernist position. Notes * The author of this article is Research Professor at IKERBASQUE, the … He states that, “A mere category of persons (say, occupants of a given territory, or speakers of a given language, for example) becomes a nation if and when the members of the category firmly recognize certain mutual rights and duties to each other in virtue of their shared membership of it. [1] O'Leary refers to the theory as "the best-known modernist explanatory theory of nationalism". To Gellner, homogenization of culture is a societal necessity, not a calculated power grab. Moreover, the views expressed here do not necessarily represent the views of Inquiries Journal or Student Pulse, its owners, staff, contributors, or affiliates. Instead, as defined, assimilationism is suggested to fit Gellner’s theory of nationalism. [1][2] Gellner discussed nationalism in a number of works, starting with Thought and Change (1964), and he most notably developed it in Nations and Nationalism (1983). In the 116th United States Congress, women hold 23.2% of House seats and 25% of Senate seats. Inquiries Journal [Online], 8. Regionally specific theories of nationalism, both from modernist and modernization approaches, may play a key part in building an integrated theory by serving as an intermediary between universalist theorising and case studies. Gellner is considered one of the leading theoreticians on nationalism. Benedict Anderson believes that both primordialist thinking and Marxist constructivist philosophy cannot endure in the face of the fundamental paradoxes of defining the nation, which he believes to be the objectivity of historical treatment versus subjective antiquity for nationalists and jingoists, the existence of formal universality among all nations versus the uniqueness of each nation’s manifestation, and the political power of a nation versus its philosophical poverty.3 For Anderson, primordialist thinking regarding the nation fails to stand up to the objectivity of historical treatment while Marxist thinking regarding the conception of the nation doesn’t take into account the philosophical poverty of the nation. [1] He thus argued that nationalism was highly compatible with industrialisation and served the purpose of replacing the ideological void left by both the disappearance of the prior agrarian society culture and the political and economical system of feudalism, which it legitimised. In the immense field of scholarly work regarding defining nationhood, a raging debate exists between the conservative view of the nation and the constructivist view. Most theorists of nationalism are modernists: they regard nationalism as an essentially modern phenomenon. [2], Gellner's theory has been subject to various criticisms:[2], Philip Gorski has argued that modernization theorists, such as Gellner, have gotten the timing of nationalism wrong: nationalism existed prior to modernity, and even had medieval roots. March 2000; American Journal of Sociology 105(5):1428-1468; DOI: 10.1086/210435. Acknowledgements. This article takes issue with the modernist position. He rejects the idea that nations exist because of any existing bond between peoples. [5] Modernity, by changes in political and economic system, is tied to the popularization of education, which, in turn, is tied to the unification of language. Gellner also states that nations are not formed through ideology or proto-jingoism, but through its necessity for the existence of a modern and industrialized society. Modernist theorists note that this is only possible in modern societies, while traditional societies typically lack the prerequisites for nationalism. "Ernest Gellner and the "Constructivist" Theory of Nation." Personal experiences with nationalist and primordialist forces served to further push scholars to the constructivist camp. The most common form of theories on nations and nationalism are based around modernity. 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