Ethnic Nationalism and Social Mobilisation in a Globalising World
The rapid expansion of institutions of global capital, coupled with the spread of neoliberal democracy throughout the nations of the so-called Third World present a number of problems for discussion. The process of globalisation has resulted in massive changes to social, economic and cultural norms in developing countries and has consequently encountered significant resistance from peoples increasingly concerned with the present and future ramifications of this form of globalisation. It is my contention that the rise or resurgence of nationalism in countries experiencing the effects of development programs and economic globalisation is directly linked to these factors. This essay will discuss how and why nationalism has become so prominent in “modernising” states, as well as the implications of increased nationalist identification on other forms of social mobilisation.
Manuel Castells provides an excellent framework for interpreting identity. Of three types of collective identity creation, he locates ethnic nationalism (though he prefers the term “cultural nationalism”) as a resistance identity. In this sense identity is generated by people experiencing domination and lack of agency, where an oppositional paradigm is created to resist this domination. In the case of nationalism, and given what has been discussed prior, we can see that it is the rapidly changing cultural, as well as social and economic factors being imposed on these countries as they are dragged into “modernity” that are seen as repressive. As Western elites push for internationalisation and the expansion of global capitalism, and elites in developing nations (as per resource mobilisation theory ) create national identity based on – and often exaggerating – existing cultural traditions, Western capitalist hegemony is in a sense resisted. The creation of communes of homogenous resistance based on previously existing, though often latent cultural identities is, however, a defensive strategy that seeks to preserve a sense of the status quo by embellishing upon cultural and ethnic heritage, not an active resistance that seeks to affect systemic and political change.
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