Social Circumstances and Factors That Incite the Upsurge of Nationalism

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


Before we focus on the social circumstances and factors that incite the upsurge of nationalism, we will present a general scheme of the genesis of nationalism in sociopsychological terms.1


National Identity Social Circumstance Religious Allegiance National Group Social Contradiction 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. 1.
    The analysis of the genesis of nationalism is confounded by the fact that nationalism is at once the effect and cause of some occurrences. “The subtlety of nationalism is such that cause-and-effect relationships are extremely difficult to determine; nationalism itself is amorphous and has a causal influence on other social phenomena as well as being their effect” (Coakley, 1992:214).Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    The reaction of an ethnic minority toward the politics of the center may be similarly motivated. “Ethnic nationalism is the kind of locality or local-level response to government intrusion in a political system where government controls the major power sources and where policies are legislated and implemented by the center with great consequences for the local level” (Reiter, 1972).Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    See also Lijpharfs analysis (1977) of erroneous predictions of the declining relevancy of the ethnic principle in the modern world.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Warwick and Cohen (1985:162-201) point out that it is possible to identify three distinct strategies that were developed and implemented by the Communist regime in Yugoslavia in order to control or eliminate the centrifugal tendencies of the system that owe their origin to profound interethnic hostilities, These strategies may be termed “revolutionary fusion” (1945-1950), “evolutionary merging” (1950-1962), and “pluralistic socialism” (1962-1969). See also Bridge, 1977, Some Causes of Political Change in Modern Yugoslavia, pp. 343-368, and Malcolm, Bosnia. A Short History, especially the chapter Bosnia in Titoist Yugoslavia, pp. 193-213.Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    According to the report of a commission for the investigation of lynching, the economic conditions in twenty-one provinces (southern United States), where lynching was reported in 1930, rated below the broader regional average (Cantril, 1941:84).Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Rotschild (1981, cited according to Stavenhagen, 1990:27) talks about politicized ethnicity and ethnopolicy. In this author’s view, politcized ethnicity is not the expression of some sort of primordial binding but rather the instrument of the struggle for power. Thus, in some societies, “politicized ethnicity has become the crucial principle of political legitimization and delegitimization of systems, states, regimes and governments.”.Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    Hechter (1986:19-20) states that ethnicity and nationalism have often been more important than class as a basis for group formation and mobilization and provides some explanations of why ethnicity can be expected to overshadow class. Compared with class ties, ethnic ones are “inherently more potent, and qualitatively distinct”; they are also more affective rather than merely instrumental. Furthermore, “the composition of ethnic groups is more stable from generation to generation than the composition of classes.” Subsequently, “ethnicity will predominate to the extent that the rate of interclass mobility exceeds the rate of inter ethnic change for the society as a whole.” Why? Because groups that are historically more persistent “develop richer and more complex cultures than those having rapid turnover.” Being richer in tradition and stability, ethnic groups are able to command greater loyalty; in other words, “ethnic solidarity is easier to achieve than class solidarity.”.Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    “The tribal gods must have had a good laugh in their caves as they watched the socialist hope for a better future based on international working-class solidarity founder precisely on the rocks of ‘national’ and ‘ethnic’ differences,” writes Isaacs (1975:216). And Moore (1978:116) observes that nationalist and separatist movements have enjoyed many successes in the past fifty-odd years, and that the number and fervor of their supporters is probably much larger than that behind any movement based on revolutionary working-class consciousness.Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    Nationalism is a kind of plebiscitary democracy, which essentially delegitimizes existing political institutions. The social situation that provokes and facilitates the imposition and buildup of plebiscitary democracy constitutes a latent charismatic situation, characterized “by a break with ordinary behavior, by the development of new modes and criteria for social relations.” As a rule, “claimants for charismatic leadership address ultimate values like survival, honor, self-respect, and justice, and not technical problems and their implementation.... If the perception of reality is directly oriented toward ultimate values, the chances grow for an acceptance of the claim to ultimate authority” (Lepsius, 1986:58).Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    In the same sense McNeill (1986:4,6,25,84) considers barbarous any strivings to achieve ethnically uniform national units.Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    Hutchinson and Smith (1994:69) note that nationalists are driven to seek “any cultural marks which can differentiate their population from others and give it lustre. As a result many nationalists have turned to the religious heritages of their societies, transforming them from universalistic belief-systems into emblems of national creativity. As they do so, the meaning of the religious is secularized and particularized.”.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1996

Authors and Affiliations

  • Dusan Kecmanovic
    • 1
  1. 1.SydneyAustralia

Personalised recommendations