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
This book has been urging again and again: ‘Look and see the constant flaggings of nationhood.’ Often unnoticed, these flaggings are not hidden. They are unlike the messages from the unconscious mind, which, according to Freudian theory, are repressed from consciousness, and leave only oblique outward traces. Freud, as is well known, proposed that a complex training was necessary to enable people to read the signs of the unconscious. The flaggings of nationhood are quite different. Their unobtrusiveness arises, in part, from their very familiarity. Shameful desires have not driven them from conscious awareness. No course of formal instruction is required to notice the flaggings. Instead, there need be only a conscious willingness to look towards the background or to attend to ...