Pub. date: 2007 | Online Pub. Date: September 25, 2007 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412952637 | Print ISBN: 9780761923879 | Online ISBN: 9781412952637| Publisher:Sage Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
Thomas Hylland Eriksen
Nationalism has been one of the most important political ideologies in the modern world. Historians and social scientists debate passionately the variety of its forms and their relative success. Nationalism is an ideology that holds that cultural and political boundaries should be coterminous. In other words, its ideal in a strong form is a state in which a political entity (in the modern world, usually a state) should only contain people belonging to the same culture. It is commonly an ideology of the modern state, offering existential security, fictive kinship ties, and a set of rights and obligations in large-scale societies where traditional forms of cohesion are no longer, or only partly, effective. Nationalism in this sense arose in Europe. One cannot date its origins exactly, but it spread across Europe from the late eighteenth century to the late nineteenth century as a popular ideology. In Ernest Gellner's influential account, ...