Political Sociology: A Reader

By S. N. Eisenstadt | Go to book overview

∥ b. STRUCTURAL ASPECTS OF FORMATION OF MODERN
CENTERS

74
Nationalist Movements: An Attempt at a
Comparative Typology

Konstantin Symmons-Symonolewicz

Although all the forms of nationalism have undoubtedly certain characteristics in common, they could be logically divided into two distinct categories : (1)nationalism of majorities which hold political power in their respective realms, and (2) nationalism of the subject peoples which strive for political and cultural emancipation. This last category includes genuine minorities as well as political minorities, i.e., groups which may constitute majorities in their respective territories, but may find themselves in a position of minorities with respect to the states to which they belong. The dynamics of development of nationalism as an individual as well as social phenomenon is different in each case.

In the first case, nationalism is usually a consequence of the country's international relations (such as conflicts over the boundaries, political and economic rivalry, military defeats, etc.) or a reaction against the nationalist stirrings among the country's minority peoples.1 In the second case, it is usually a reaction to the status of inferiority, to the denial of political and cultural self-expression and to the imposition of alien rule and custom. Only this category can be legitimately described as nationalist movements, i.e., social movements aiming at a national liberation.

Although nationalism among the majority peoples may at times take the form of a social movement,2 it is for the most part represented by regular political parties or by the state itself. In the case of "minority peoples," on the other hand, nationalism must of

necessity follow the pattern of a typical social movement.

A social movement is defined by sociologists as a "large-scale, widespread, and continuing, elementary collective action in pursuit of an objective that affects and shapes the social order in some fundamental aspect." 3 For nationalist movements, this fundamental objective is represented by the emancipation from the restrictions of the foreign rule, cultural and political. 4

Nationalist movements constitute a variety of social movements which has two distinguishing characteristics : (1) their appeal is, by the very nature of their goals, limited to the potential supporters among the "natives," 5 and (2) their success is not assured even when they command an unqualified support from the groups which they claim to represent.

The purpose of the present paper is to consider various types of nationalist movements and to suggest their general typology.

Before attempting this, however, it is necessary to discuss some classifications which were developed previously by various authors. These can be grouped under three headings: (1) those presented by the historians of nationalism; (2) those advanced by the students of the "developing" countries; and (3) those suggested by the sociologists.

The historical studies in the origin and growth of nationalist movements and ideologies were inaugurated by the events of World War I. 6 They have continued as an active field ever since. 7 During the inter-war period they were confined largely to Europe, but already as early as the late 1920's the most important nationalisms of Asia were also brought into their purview. 8

The period of colonial emancipation and "nation‐

____________________
From Konstantin Symmons-Symonolewicz, "Nationalist Movements: An Attempt at a Comparative Typology," Comparative Studies in Society and History, VII (1965), 221-230. Reprinted by permission of the publisher.

-465-

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