The nation and national
‘The nation’ continues to be the most important site on which mediated public life is played out, despite the rise of a more globalised culture and the ongoing importance of state and local communities. As noted in chapter 3, our membership of ‘the public’ is not limited by a particular geographical boundary: we can variously participate in local community activities and engage with global occurrences. The meanings and values of the public are, however, very importantly defined at the level of the ‘national public’. The nation in many ways seems a solid and permanent collection of political structures, institutions and culture, all confirmed through the weight of history, but it is also a mediated phenomenon, continually made and remade through media discourse, narratives and representations. Much of the ongoing life of a nation resides in struggles to mobilise the national public to support particular practices and values as embodiments of the nation. In this chapter I analyse these struggles through discussion of such events such as the referendum on an Australian republic and the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games.
The concept of ‘the nation’ may seem unproblematic initially, but nations are not naturally occurring entities: they arose out of historical contexts due to particular factors, and an understanding of these