Intersections with Attachment

By Jacob L. Gewirtz; William M. Kurtines | Go to book overview

11 Attachment Processes in Adult Political Ideology: Patriotism and Nationalism

Seymour Feshbach


ABSTRACT

This paper is addressed to the proposition that similar mechanisms mediate early attachment to caregivers and later attachment to one's culture and nation. The tendency to equate nations with parental figures is illustrated through quotations selected from literature and the mass media. These quotations suggest that one's nation and government are often viewed in terms of parental imagery and that there is a similarity between affective attachments toward parents and affective attachment toward one's nation. Theoretical masons for postulating a linkage between early attachment and national "attachment" are also considered.

An exploratory study bearing on the relationship between early attachment and national "attachment" is described. To implement the study, it was first necessary to develop measures distinguishing patriotism from nationalism. A factor analysis of items tapping love of country, belief in the dominance of one's country and attitudes towards other nations yielded several factors, the first two of which were vectors that corresponded to the a-priori conceptions of patriotism and nationalism, respectively. It was postulated that the patriotism factor, in particular, would be positively correlated with early attachments. A questionnaire inventory of attachment feelings and responses in early childhood was developed, and administered to a sample of college undergraduates, along with the patriotism-nationalism scale and measure of current attachment to and conflict with parents. The results reflected a significant relationship between early attachment to the father and patriotic feelings. These and other findings are discussed in terms of their relevance to both the analysis of the intensity of patriotic and nationalistic attitudes and the enhancement of our understanding of early attachments.

Attachment is generally acknowledged to refer to a significant kind of relationship that obtains between a young child and caretaker. However, like many other

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