The Future of Nationalism

The Future of Nationalism

The future of nationalism is a complex question. It is rooted in the history of politics, but also shaped by the current age of globalisation.

The idea of national identity is deeply linked to the development of modern nation states. But like other relationships grounded in belonging, nationalism can have negative effects if it leads to exclusivism and competition.

The Political Economy of Nationalism

The political economy of nationalism is a complex area of research. It includes a wide range of topics and approaches, from traditional economic theories to sociopolitical philosophies that place an emphasis on the state as a central institution in society.

In recent years, the political rhetoric of many large parties around the world has increasingly emphasized policies that stress national sovereignty, reject multilateralism, and seek to advance national interests at the expense of foreign interests. This is particularly true in the case of economic nationalism, which has become a more self-serving form of politics.

This paper examines economic nationalism in the context of world markets, providing a broad-based theoretical framework and a historical perspective. It identifies a series of historical moments that are key to understanding the rise and institutionalisation of economic nationalism, and it explores how a shift in policy coordination between major countries could have prevented the global financial crisis of 2008.

The Political Economy of Populism

The political economy of populism is an interesting and complex issue. It’s also one that’s important to understand because it affects how we vote and interact with other people.

The causes of populism range from economic factors (inflation, unemployment, wage differentials) to structural social changes and a desire to assert national identity against supranational institutions and cosmopolitan ideals. Voters’ distrust of the system often leads them to opt for parties that break from the status quo and offer seemingly appealing solutions to voters’ economic malaise – be it trade protectionism, building a border wall or exiting the EU.

A number of studies have linked shocks to per capita income, inflation, unemployment, government expenditures, income inequality, migration, trade and financial openness, and natural resource rents to the demand for populism. However, these links have only a modest explanatory significance for the level of support for populists.

The Political Economy of Neo-Nationalism

Nationalism can be understood at the group/community level, as a series of narratives and movements that stir up a feeling of belonging to an inner group through shared ethnicity, traditions, memories and symbols (Gellner 1983; Anderson 1991). It can also be studied at the individual level, as a set of sentiments and actions expressed by fellow nationals from bottom-up, either to make sense of their lives in the framework of supra-personal narrative (Miller 2008), or to sharpen the contrast against “the others” who are alien to their community.

The political economy of neo-nationalism is often driven by the marketization of society. The marketization leads to increased economic insecurity and a decline in protective social mechanisms, which fuels nationalism’s growth.

Neo-nationalism is a transitional, episodic phenomenon that varies from country to country and from time to time. Nevertheless, it is a directional phenomenon that will change the political landscape of countries around the world from now on.

The Political Economy of Everyday Nationalism

Everyday nationalism is a sub-field of nationalism studies that refocuses attention on the’masses’ and human agency, in contrast to elites. This approach critiques the assumption that nationhood is consistently reproduced as a ‘pervasively relevant social category’ (Brubaker et al. 2006; Fox & Miller-Idriss 2008a).

Banal forms of nationalism, which are often accompanied by media coverage, are used to bring nationality into the foreground, generating a sense of national identity in which members share an ethnic group’s traditions, memories and symbols. These include rituals, political events and symbols that make people feel connected to their nations in a supra-personal way.

In unsettled times, nationalism can also manifest itself as a form of ‘defensive nationalism’ (Goode et al. 2020; Wang 2021). This is when one ethnic group feels threatened by demographic change within their ‘nation’, which can trigger a feeling of identity conflict with people who do not share their ethnicity.

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