Academic journal article Political Research Quarterly

The Construction of National Identity-A 23-Nation Study

Academic journal article Political Research Quarterly

The Construction of National Identity-A 23-Nation Study

Article excerpt

A theory has been advanced that the construction of national identity derives, in part, from a negotiation between a nation's Selbstbild (or the nation's national consciousness, or the image its citizens have of their country) and a nation's Fremdbild (or the nation's perceived or actual international image in world opinion). This article tests the theory using survey data on 23 nations, from the International Social Survey. The project proceeds in four steps. The first step uses factor analysis to generate measures of national consciousness and pride, and perceived international image and orientation; the relationship between these measures is established. The second step involves generating indices that measure the ways in which respondents define their relationship to their country. These measures fall into two groups-measures of allegiance to the nation, considered as an ethnic or religious entity, and measures of allegiance to the state, considered as a set of institutions and laws. The relationships among these measures are also established, and correlated with Selbstbild, or national pride. The third step involves generating indices of tolerance of diversity and immigration. These measures are then correlated with the measures of perceived international reputation, or Fremdbild. The resulting model defines a complex relationship among factors of national-focused and international-focused perspectives, all of which combine in the negotiation of national identity. Finally, the study concludes by analyzing the variations in these measures across the 23 nations in the survey, and testing whether religious culture affects the construction of national identity.

National identity in stable political systems had previously been viewed as a relatively static characteristic of a given polity, and hence, the proper province of comparative political analysis (Verba and Almond 1965: 13).1 However, identity has more recently been conceptualized as a negotiation among forces both internal and external to the nation in question. Moreover, one of the most critical of external forces involved in this process is the reputation a nation enjoys in world opinion, as reflected in its more or less consensual perception by other countries. It is here that we move into the realm of international relations, and the distinctions between it and comparative political analysis blur. Researchers interested in the study of national identity must necessarily move beyond mere comparative analyses of citizen responses among nations to considerations of international public opinion.

Global opinion theory argues that the construction of national identity derives, in part, from a negotiation between a nation's Selbstbild (or the nation's national consciousness, or the image its citizens have of their country) and a nation's Fremdbild (or the nation's perceived or actual international image in world opinion). Rusciano tested this theory using survey data on Germany (Rusciano, 2000), while Rusciano, Fiske-Rusciano, and Wang tested it using content analyses on China. However, these two cases are special due to the nations' peculiar histories. German citizens tend to be especially self-conscious about their image in the world following the Second World War and the Holo. The Chinese tend to be protective of their image since much of their identity previously integrated their isolation, and professed uniqueness, from outside influences. The question arises, then, whether these special circumstances might limit the applicability of the Selbstbild/Fremdbild model to other countries.

This paper will explore the construction of national identity using survey data on 23 nations from the International Social Survey.2 The project proceeds in four steps. The first step uses factor analysis to generate initial measures of national consciousness and pride (Selbstbild), and perceived international image and orientation (Fremdbild); the relationship between these measures is established. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.