Contemporary nationalism is typically framed as an oppositional ideology that legitimates the struggles of ethnic minorities for political sovereignty or, alternatively, justifies the xenophobic claims of nativist fringe groups. The emphasis on nationalism’s incendiary varieties, however, has led to the neglect of everyday popular nationalism—the routine and tacit acceptance of the nation-state as a primary object of identification and loyalty, as well as a fundamental unit of political organization. In an effort to address this gap in research, I examine the cross-national variation in popular conceptions of the nation-state using pooled-sample latent class analysis, a method that allows me to account for both within- and between-country heterogeneity and avoid reductive a priori assumptions about the national boundedness of culture. Having demonstrated that the resulting fourfold typology of popular nationalism is predictive of a wide range of political beliefs and is remarkably consistent across countries and over time, I show how the relative prevalence of the four types of nationalism shifts within countries in response to economic and political events that increase the salience of the nation-state. This study breaks new ground in the study of nationalism and offers a novel approach to the use of survey data in comparative research on political culture.
Working Paper, Weatherhead Center for International Affairs, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA.