Diversity and commonality in national identities: an exploratory analysis of cross-national patterns

Jones, FL and Smith, P (2001) Diversity and commonality in national identities: an exploratory analysis of cross-national patterns. Journal of Sociology, 37 1: 45-63. doi:10.1177/144078301128756193

Author Jones, FL
Smith, P
Title Diversity and commonality in national identities: an exploratory analysis of cross-national patterns
Journal name Journal of Sociology   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 0004-8690
Publication date 2001
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1177/144078301128756193
Volume 37
Issue 1
Start page 45
End page 63
Total pages 19
Place of publication Melbourne
Publisher The Australian Sociological Association
Collection year 2001
Language eng
Subject C1
370199 Sociology not elsewhere classified
750308 National identity
Abstract Issues of boundary maintenance are implicit in all studies of national identity. By definition, national communities consist of those who are included but surrounded (literally or metaphorically) by those who are excluded. Most extant research on national identity explores criteria for national membership largely in terms of official or public definitions described, for example, in citizenship and immigration laws or in texts of popular culture. We know much less about how ordinary people in various nations reason about these issues. An analysis of cross-national (N = 23) survey data from the 1995 International Social Science Program reveals a core pattern in most of the countries studied. Respondents were asked how important various criteria were in being 'truly' a member of a particular nation. Exploratory factor analysis shows that these items cluster in terms of two underlying dimensions. Ascriptive/objectivist criteria relating to birth, religion and residence can be distinguished from civic/voluntarist criteria relating to subjective feelings of membership and belief in core institutions. In most nations the ascriptive/objectivist dimension of national identity was more prominent than the subjective civic/voluntarist dimension. Taken overall, these findings suggest an unanticipated homogeneity in the ways that citizens around the world think about national identity. To the extent that these dimensions also mirror the well-known distinction between ethnic and civic national identification, they suggest that the former remains robust despite globalization, mass migration and cultural pluralism. Throughout the world official definitions of national identification have tended to shift towards a civic model. Yet citizens remain remarkably traditional in outlook. A task for future research is to investigate the macrosociological forces that produce both commonality and difference in the core patterns we have identified.
Keyword Sociology
Q-Index Code C1

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collection: School of Social Science Publications
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Citation counts: TR Web of Science Citation Count  Cited 49 times in Thomson Reuters Web of Science Article | Citations
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Created: Tue, 14 Aug 2007, 15:05:05 EST