National and Patriotic Feeling

  • Dusan Kecmanovic
Part of the Path in Psychology book series (PATH)


National feeling is, essentially, the individual’s feeling of relatedness to the national group or, more generally, a form of group belonging.


National Identity National Feeling National Group Cultural Nation Political Nation 
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  1. 1.
    “The tendency of man to prefer the familiar to the unfamiliar is universal. Even those who search for new experiences and delight on the exotic seek reassurance in the familiar and the habitual. As the world is presently organized, the familiar and the habitual are principally equated with the national, sometimes directly, sometimes through the further identification of family and community with nation.... The familiar language, the familiar food, the familiar humour, the familiar interpersonal responses—including, as Kipling wrote, the familiar lies—all are affectionately related to nation” (Grodzins, 1956:22).Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    The formation of nations was not identical in all societies. In some cases, the socioeconomic reasons were determining; in others, the wish to liberate the country from the foreign ruler played the dominant role; at times, the formation of new nations and nation-states was one of the consequences of the breakup of the great empires, and so on (cf. Smith, 1991:43-70).Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Horowitz (1985:55) attempts to solve many puzzles of ethnicity and nationality, including multiple nationalities, by regarding “ethnic affiliations as being located along a continuum of ways in which people organize and categorize themselves. At one end there is voluntary membership; at the other, membership given at birth. We like to think of birth and choice as mutually exclusive principles of membership, but all institutions are infused with components of both.” The fact is that, in any society, it is very hard to strike and maintain a balance between these two principles. The more so because different groups within society, and at different times, tip the balance either in favor of the birth or the choice principle.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Nationalists, as a rule, point out the importance of the common ethnic descent and shared culture. Following this line of reasoning, Kellas (1991:51-2) makes a distinction between ethnic nationalism (the nationalism of ethnic groups who define their nation in exclusive terms, mainly on the basis of common descent) and social nationalism (the nationalism of a nation that defines itself by social ties and culture rather than by common descent).Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    This fundamental tension between primordial and civil sentiments Geertz (1963:10) articulated as follows: “It is this crystallization of a direct conflict between primordial and civil sentiments—this ‘longing not to belong to any other group’—that gives to the problem variously called tribalism, parochialism, communalism, and so on, a more ominous and deeply threatening quality than most of the other, also very serious and intractable, problems the states face.” And Hutchinson (1994:194), for his part, states that “the intrinsic tension between ethnic identifications, which are necessarily exclusive and hierarchal, and the commitment to citizenship-equality has created problems of stability both for communist and liberal-democratic states in modern Europe which are not ethnically homogenous. It is chastening to note that even in New World societies (Canada, the USA, Australia) with a relatively weak historical sense and without mythic claims to ‘primordial’ homelands, foundation myths are associated with a specific ethnic core population and with patterns of power and exclusion, and cannot be easily manipulated.” Is there any way to overcome this basic conflict between ethnic and national identification, between primordial and civil sentiments? Foon (1986) contends that these two sorts of sentiments are not automatically exclusive of each other. According to this author, this critical perspective stresses five neglected possibilities: (1) nonethnic consent in the national identity, (2) nonpolitical intent in the expression of ethnic identity, (3) ethnic identity that does not involve sentiments of group superiority, (4) the priority of national over ethnic identification if and only when they clash on primary allegiance issue, and (5) the partially situational nature of identification.Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Stagner (1936:14) dubs the same occurrence cultural schizophrenia. “For example, Jews in America want to be seen as loyal Americans, not as foreigners, but they also want to preserve group identity and a distinctive culture.... Vietnamese immigrants want to be fully accepted as Americans but they ask to be educated in their own language and to retain their own customs with regard to food and living patterns.”.Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    According to the dominant principle underlying nationalism, Francis distinguishes two types of nationalism: demotic and ethnic nationalism. The former is congruent with Smith’s territorial principle, and the latter with Smith’s genealogical (ethnic) principle (Smith, 1991:123). Like Smith, Francis (1976:108) considers inherently unstable all state organizations resting on these two principles, which virtually means that the majority of extant states are inherently unstable. “As long as the nation-state itself is not replaced by a novel type of political power structure that would be more in keeping with the requirements of industrial society, the most promising device for minimizing perpetual unrest, violent oppression, or secessionistic and separatistic movements may be seen in the recognition of all major ethnic units found within the state population as corporations after the manner of nationalities coupled with a rather generous federalism. Yet even the multi-ethnic nation-state, representing a political federation of nationalities, cannot achieve more than a labile equilibrium.”.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1996

Authors and Affiliations

  • Dusan Kecmanovic
    • 1
  1. 1.SydneyAustralia

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