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 wi

Remembering Banal Nationalism

Remembering banal nationalism

Because nationalism has deeply affected contemporary ways of thinking, it is not easily studied. One cannot step outside the world of nations, nor rid oneself of the assumptions and common-sense habits which come from living within that world. Analysts must expect to be affected by what should be the object of their study. As was seen in the previous chapter, it is easy to suppose that people ‘naturally’ speak different languages. The assumption is difficult to shake. What makes the problem even more complex is that there are common-sense assumptions about the nature of nationalism itself. In established nations, it seems ‘natural’ to suppose that nationalism is an over-heated reaction, which typically is the property of others. The assumption enables ...

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