Nationalism refers to an ideology, a sentiment, a form of culture, or a social movement that focuses on the nation. It is a type of collectivism emphasizing the collective of a specific nation. While there is significant debate over the historical origins of nations, nearly all specialists accept that nationalism, at least as an ideology and social movement, is a modern phenomenon originating in Europe. Precisely where and when it emerged is difficult to determine, but its development is closely related to that of the modern state and the push for popular sovereignty that came to a head with the French Revolution in the late 18th century. Since that time, nationalism has become one of the most significant political and social forces in history, perhaps most notably as a major influence or cause of World War I and especially World War II due to the rise of fascism, a radical and authoritarian nationalist ideology.

As an ideology, nationalism holds that 'the people' in the doctrine of popular sovereignty is the nation, and that as a result only nation-states founded on the principle of national self-determination are legitimate. Since most states are multinational, or at least home to more than one group claiming national status, In many cases nationalist pursuit of self-determination has caused conflict between people and states including war (both external and domestic), secession; and in extreme cases, genocide.

Nationalism is a strong social phenomenon in the world as national flags, national anthems and national divisions are examples of 'banal' nationalism that is often mentally unconscious. Moreover, some scholars argue that nationalism as a sentiment or form of culture, sometimes described as 'nationality' to avoid the ideology's tarnished reputation, is the social foundation of modern society. Industrialization, democratization, and support for economic redistribution have all been at least partly attributed to the shared social context and solidarity that nationalism provides.

Nevertheless, nationalism remains a hotly contested subject on which there is little general consensus. The clearest example of opposition to nationalism is cosmopolitanism, with adherents as diverse as liberals, Marxists, and anarchists, but even nationalism's defenders often disagree on its virtues, and it is common for nationalists of one persuasion to disparage the aspirations of others for both principled and strategic reasons. Indeed, the only fact about nationalism that is not in dispute may be that few other social phenomena have had a more enduring impact on the modern world.

Types of nationalism

Nationalism may manifest itself as part of official state ideology or as a popular (non-state) movement and may be expressed along civic, ethnic, cultural, religious or ideological lines. These self-definitions of the nation are used to classify types of nationalism. However, such categories are not mutually exclusive and many nationalist movements combine some or all of these elements to varying degrees. Nationalist movements can also be classified by other criteria, such as scale and location.

Some political theorists make the case that any distinction between forms of nationalism is false. In all forms of nationalism, the populations believe that they share some kind of common culture. A main reason why such typology can be considered false is that it attempts to bend the fairly simple concept of nationalism to explain its many manifestations or interpretations. Arguably, all "types" of nationalism merely refer to different ways academics throughout the years have tried to define nationalism. This school of thought accepts that nationalism is simply the desire of a nation to self-determine.

Civic nationalism

Civic or cultural nationalism is focused on cultural rather than hereditary connections between people. Civic nationalism promotes common cultural values and allows people of different origins to assimilate into the nation.

Ethnic nationalism

Ethnic nationalism is based on the hereditary connections of people. Ethnic nationalism specifically seeks to unite all people of a certain ethnicity heritage together. Ethnic nationalism does not seek to include people of other ethnicities.


Irredentism is a form of nationalism promoting the annexation of territories, which have or previously had members of the nation residing within them, to a state which composes most or all of the nation's members.

Expansionist nationalism

Expansionist nationalism promoted spreading the nation's members to new territories, usually on the claimed basis that existing territory which the nation has resided in is too small or is not able to physically or economically sustain the nation's population.

Liberation nationalism

Many nationalist movements in the world are dedicated to national liberation, in the view that their nations are being persecuted by other nations and thus need to exercise self-determination by liberating themselves from the accused persecutors. Anti-revisionist Marxist-Leninism is closely tied with this ideology, and practical examples include Stalin's early work Marxism and the National Question and his Socialism in One Country edict, which declares that nationalism can be used in an internationalist context i.e. fighting for national liberation without racial or religious divisions.


Fascism is an authoritarian nationalist ideology which promotes national revolution, national collectivism, a totalitarian state, and irredentism or expansionism to unify and allow the growth of a nation. Fascists often promote ethnic nationalism but also have promoted cultural nationalism including cultural assimilation of people outside a specific ethnic group.

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