Imagined Communities

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Text of Imagined Communities


    Citizenship and Nationhood

  • Today

    Seen examination discussion (and reassurance?)

    Modular movements: from division to cohesion

    National identity and nationalism

    Managing belonging

  • Exam review format

    Select two questions from seven options

    Two hours

    Under standard exam conditions

    One A4 page of notes allowed (both sides)

  • Purpose

    This is not a memory test!

    The basis of your discussion should be a demonstration of your understanding of the core themes of the course

    Try to integrate knowledge from different lectures

    Link this understanding to the world around you

  • Expectations

    Demonstrate your understanding of the link between social differences and social divisions

    Evaluate the causes of social divisions and the possibilities for political resistance

    Consider how social cohesion is achieved

    Use evidence to support your ideas

  • Question One

    Critically discuss the future impacts of increases in university fees upon class stratification and social exclusion in Britain. (Lectures 2,3 and 4) What are the likely future impacts of fee increases? What evidence is there for this? What is the importance of university education?

    How do you define class and social exclusion? Marx, Weber and social mobility

    How will the impact of fee increases influence upon this


  • Question Two

    Why might some ethnicities in Britain be less likely to study science at university? (Lectures 2, 3 and 4)

    Are some ethnicities less likely to study science?


    Biology? (explain the distinction between race and ethnicity)

    Culture? (what factors are relevant family, class?)

  • Question Three

    To what extent would it be justifiable to promote affirmation action policies to encourage more men to participate in British higher education? (Lectures 4, 9 & 10) What is the difference in participation rates between

    genders and what is the context for this difference? Why might this have occurred? Introduce distinction

    between sex and gender What is affirmative action (positive action/discrimination)

    and why would it be justified? Are there other factors to be considered?

  • Question Four

    Discuss the factors that influence the proportional over-representation of former public school pupils at Oxbridge universities (Lectures 2,3 and 4)

    Is there an over-representation of public school pupils

    at Oxbridge?

    Why are these inequalities reproduced? (class, ethnicity)

    Is it a matter of (generational) meritocracy, or discrimination?

  • Question Five

    Critically discuss what it would mean for universities to treat disabled students less favourably (Lectures 6, 9 and 10)

    What does less favourably and equality mean in regards to disability?

    When is positive action justifiable?

  • Question Six

    Why would governments seek to promote wider participation in higher education? (Lectures 9, 10 and 11)

    What is widening participation?

    Are there inequalities in access to universities?

    What is the importance of education for mobility?

    Why would governments seek to achieve social cohesion and minimise inequalities?

  • Question Seven

    Critically discuss the impact of digital exclusion upon higher education in the 21st century (Lecture 11)

    What is digital exclusion?

    Why is it importance in regards to higher education?

    Inequality or social mobility?

    Is class relevant?

  • Modular movements

    Social Differences Social Divisions

  • Solidarity and Cohesion

    Identities and societies are distinguished by social differences, but these differences often produce divisions

    These divisions are political rather than natural

    Why, and how, are they reproduced so consistently?

  • Our Question

    What are the mechanisms through which social cohesion is achieved?

    National identity (Week 8)

    State control (Week 9)

    Community identification (Week 10)

  • Initial Responses

    What are the primary mechanisms through which

    social cohesion is reproduced in Britain?

  • Turning to the nation

    Social divisions are flattened when members identify with a (limited) larger cause

    These identifications are often passionate and provide a sense of belonging

    But they also define who belongs and who is excluded

  • Defining the nation

    Nations are a people with a shared identity

    Nations differs from ethnic groups because they seek political autonomy as well as cultural unity

    Nations produce social solidarity through belonging and identification

  • A sense of belonging

    The question of nationhood is one of belonging

    Who is part of the nation and why?

    Blood links and shared history?

    Geographical proximity?

    Commitment to shared values?

  • Not belonging

    Any understanding of belonging is also one of exclusion

    Who is excluded from the nation (or the state)?

    How is this exclusion managed politically (by the state) and justified culturally?

    People can be formally included but still divided

  • Nationalism

    A patriotic identification with the nation over other forms of identity We are all English

    Nationalism is a powerful tool for achieving social solidarity and mediating against social divisions

    Appeals to nationalism and unity are a common political device, particularly when social cohesion is threatened

  • Types of Nationalism

    Nationalism is the desire of a people to assert their autonomy, identity and unity

    There is no fixed sense of nationalism it can be attached to other political ideologies



  • National Instinct

    Primordialism suggests that nations are rooted in biological similarities

    Primordial nations are based on shared geography, languages and heritage

    Often constructed around founding myths and traditions that have bound together the people

  • Our shared heritage

    The primordial perspective is conservative in the sense that it identifies an essence to identity

    This essence is fixed and naturally excludes those who do not fit often violently

    In large scale societies, this homogeneity is difficult to achieve and the politics of conservative nationalism are generally retrospective

    Politicians often seek to return to this time British citizenship tests

  • An imagined community

    Benedict Anderson (1991) argued that the nation was an imagined community

    National identities are not based on biological similarity but on a socially constructed image nations are built, not born

    They are imagined on the basis of identification with national symbols

  • Symbols of imagination

  • Constructing Imagination

    Whilst our national imaginations are based on shared symbols and ideas, they cannot be fixed

    Instead national identity is always an ideological point of struggle

    What defines us from them?

    What does it mean to belong to this nation?

    These struggles are often passionately expressed

  • Why are we so passionate about nationhood, but not

    other aspects of our identity?

    Should this be encouraged?

  • A limited imagination

    Our sense of nationhood is defined by its distinction from other nations

    We know who we are because we are not them

    Whilst nationhood flattens differences between members, it sharply defines those who belong

    These distinctions are established through the state

  • Nations and states

    Nations might be imagined, but they are also built

    Modern nations are generally coupled with states (the nation-state)

    Nations are cultural constructions, states are political institutions

    We will focus on the state next week, but

  • Introducing the State

    States are primarily defined by their monopoly over physical force within a given territory based on a centralised authority

    Weber: A human community that (successfully) claims the monopoly of the legitimate use of physical force within a given territory (Pierson, p.7)

  • The state of national identity

    The role of the state is to manage the political affairs of the nation

    In regards to our discussion, this is a matter of managing differences and divisions between groups

    Those who seek to move beyond the boundaries of identity

    Social divisions within the nation.

  • Managing struggle

    Western nation-states have sought to manage these struggles by;

    Fostering national identity

    Defining the rights and obligations of those who belong

    Encouraging formal equality of participation

  • Fostering Identity

    National identification is actively developed through education, a primary mode of socialisation

    Nationalism is most prominently displayed during sporting events

    But is also encouraged through the arts and media

  • Do you think that nation-states should actively seek

    to develop national identity?

  • Liberal Nationalism

    Liberal nationalism suggests