Nationalism as a Social Movement

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The International Studies Encyclopedia, 2010, 8, pp. 5302 - 5321
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Not surprisingly, there is much debate about types of nationalist movement, and their role in history. This essay seeks to conceptualize nationalism as a social movement, and explores its dynamics as a social formation with world historical force. As a social movement, nationalism is embedded in political contexts and can only be explained in relation to the resulting dynamics of contention (Vladisavljevec 2002:771). By understanding its dynamics we may then generate possibilities for the normative engagement sought after for instance by Joan Cocks, namely the ability to "probe how one might think, fee l and judge in order to act well in relation to nationalism" (Cocks 2002:S). Unfortunate ly, though, nationalism is not often explicitly conceptualized as a social movement. The field of social movement studies does address nationalism, but more on its peripheries than as a central problematic. There is a tendency to treat nationalism sui generis, to the detriment of both nationalism studies and social movement studies. The 2006 Sage Handbook oj Nations and Nationalism, for instance, does not address nationalism as a social movement (Delanty and Kumar 2006). Across the 74 articles in the four volume 2007 Routledge collection, Social Movements: C1itical Concepts in Sociology, there is one article devoted to nationalism (Jasper and Goodwin 2007).
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