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Why is the nation-state so vulnerable to ethnic nationalism?

Brown, D. (1998) Why is the nation-state so vulnerable to ethnic nationalism? Nations and Nationalism, 4 (1). pp. 1-15.

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The strength of national identity derived from the belief that state elites would be the agents of equitable development. Their invented ideology of the social justice community resonated with the psychological needs of individuals in search of an imagined kinship community able to replicate the security of the family. From the late 1960s, the inability of state elites to fulfil their developmental promises led to a decline in state authority, which then translated into the erosion of its main legitimatory ideology - the myth of the assimilating nation. This generated the new legitimacy of countervailing ethnic nationalisms. Instead of looking to the state as the imagined kinship community, disillusioned citizens became receptive to new social justice claims by aspiring political elites, which depicted ethnicity as the alternative imagined kinship community. Attempts by state elites to manage these new ethnic claims face problems relating to the neutrality of the state and to the resonance of myths of the multicultural nation.

Publication Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation: School of Politics and International Studies
Publisher: Blackwell Publishing Inc.
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