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Discussion about the differences between nationalism and national identity

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  1. The concept of Nationalism
  2. The concept of national identity
  3. How a national identity is built
  4. The interactions between nationalism and national identity

From the middle of the eighteenth century uptil now, the concept of a nation has generated various theories and approaches. Towards the end of the eighteenth century, people began to express a certain need for belonging to a nation, particularly in Europe, and also in the United States. Anne-Marie Thiesse wrote in her book 'la creation des identités nationales. Europe XII-XX siècle', although in our mind, belonging to a nation seems to exist since ancient times, it was actually built recently. One has to say 'built' because the concept of a nation is a pure construction of people. As she writes, 'The real birth of a nation is the moment when a handful of people declare that it [the nation] exists and undertake to prove it'. This is since the end of the eighteenth century, and more precisely during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries that the concept of nation took all its extent. And as a consequence, this period was the high time for other concepts connected to the notion of nation to emerge. The concepts of nationalism and national identity are the results of this. Both concepts were and still are the subject of different approaches. The difficulties of these two notions are not only to distinguish the fields of each, but also to emphasize the interactions which could exist between them. That is why in this discussion, one will first attempt to bring out the different conceptions of nationalism and national identity. In the light of these notions, one will better understand how national identities can emerge. But finally, one will see that even there are some distinctions between the notions of nationalism and national identity, but at the same time the two notions are intimately linked and are also a way to feel the 'spirit' of a nation.

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