Social theory has approached nationalism most as a political ideology structuring relations of power and conflict. It has focused on nationalism's relationship to ethnic violence and war, on the production of beliefs that one's own country is the best, and on the invocation of national unity to override internal differences. It has seen nationalism first through bellicose international relations and second through projects by which elites attempt to mobilize mass support. This has been an influential view both among scholars of nationalism (such as Michael Hechter) and among general social theorists (such as Jürgen Habermas) who have tended to see nationalism largely as a problem to be overcome.

A second strain of social theory, associated with modernization theory and anticipated by both Weber and Durkheim, has ...

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