Consensual Versus Heterogeneous Conceptions of Nationhood: The Role of Citizenship Regimes and Integration Policies Across 21 European Countries

  • Oriane SarrasinEmail author
  • Eva G. T. Green
  • Jasper Van Assche
Original Research


Conceptions of nationhood (i.e., who is accepted as a member of the national ingroup) are known to be more open in countries with inclusive citizenship and integration policies. Yet, surprisingly, up to now no research has investigated whether the sharedness of these conceptions is related to national policies. Therefore, relying on data from the 2013 International Social Survey Programme, the present study examined to which extent individuals living in 188 regions of 21 European countries share similar conceptions of who is a “true” member of the nation. Both ethnic (e.g., having national ancestry) and civic (e.g., respecting national laws and institutions) criteria were considered. Multilevel analyses revealed that in countries with more inclusive policies (with inclusive citizenship regimes, and where immigrants are granted more political rights) the average regional importance granted to ethnic criteria was lower, and conceptions were more heterogeneous (i.e., less shared). Civic criteria—that are achievable—were deemed more important. This can explain the lower heterogeneity of civic conceptions of nationhood and the lack of impact of national policies (though the average regional importance of these criteria was higher where immigrants had more rights). Overall, these results suggest that inclusive as opposed to exclusive settings leave more room for differing worldviews.


Conception of nationhood Ideological climate ISSP Norms Within-country variation 



This work was supported by the Swiss National Science Foundation (National Center of Competence in Research NCCR—on the move Grant No. 51NF40-142020) and by the Research Foundation - Flanders [FWO.3E0.2018.0049.01].


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of Psychology, Faculty of Social and Political SciencesUniversity of LausanneLausanneSwitzerland
  2. 2.Department of Developmental, Personality and Social Psychology, Faculty of Psychology and Educational SciencesGhent UniversityGhentBelgium
  3. 3.Center for Social and Cultural Psychology, Faculty of Psychology and Educational SciencesUniversity of LeuvenLeuvenBelgium

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