Is national identity the result of social-cultural facts, like race, religion, and language, or is it the result of political-historical factors, like geography, war, and political leadership?
National identity can be defined as the sense of belonging to a nation or state. It is the sense of a country and what makes its inhabitants cohesive as represented by its politics, language, culture and traditions. For this reason, it refers to a subjective feeling which can only be shared by the inhabitants of a state regardless of where they were born or their legal citizenship. In psychological terms, it is a recognition and feeling of “we” and “they” and an “awareness of difference”. Often it entails what does it mean to belong to a nation for instance, What does it mean to be an Australian, Hungarian, Russian, Mexican or any other state? However, it may be surprising to learn how different countries have a similar measure of who can be defined as “one of us” and who cannot. National identity is often expressed on a positive note through patriotism characterized by love, positive emotions of one’s state and national pride (Theiss-Morse, 136). An extreme demonstration of national identity is termed as chauvinism referring to an extreme loyalty of one’s nation and firm belief of its superiority.
Since national identity is not an inborn attribute, it is socially and not politically constructed (Yu, and Kwan, 34). An individual’s national identity is as a direct result of the “common shared aspects” in the individual’s daily lives. These shared aspects include language, culture, radio, television, national symbols, nations history, etc. As a result of different social influences, people incorporate a national identity to their identity by adopting expectations, assumptions, beliefs and values which align with their national identity. Similar to other social identities, national identity arouses positive emotions such as a feeling of obligation towards fellow citizens, love to one’s state and pride. National identity as a form of socialization contributes to harmony among ethnic groups. For instance, as a result of integrating various ethnic groups, the American people share a common national pride effectively mitigating ethnic conflicts. National identity can be conceptualized as a collective product. Due to socialization, a system of expectations, assumptions, beliefs and values are transmitted to its group members. Collective elements of national identity may include memories of achievements and national experiences, traditions and national symbols. All these elements are often rooted in a nation’s history. However, it is critical to observe that people adopt national identity to their identity to different extents and ways.
What were the most important factors that shape Mexican and Russian national identities?
Russians national identity is undoubtedly unique as it tries to preserve its traditional components and values which make up the notion of its identity as a country. These values and components include political experiences, culture, state policy, language and history. A significant historical event which shaped Russia’s identity is the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union. The collapse tends to explain Russia’s extremist tendencies. Vladimir’s Putin ascendance to power in 2000 has further transformed its national identity via its foreign policy(Medvedev, 22). Russia creates a conservative and anti-western national identity enabling the elite to consolidate their power in society. The Mexican national identity has been premised widely on facets of its popular culture. Mexican national identity was developed by everyday events and a disparate mix of people as opposed to an anointed elite. The sense of his new nation in the 19th century was developed as result of performances in puppet theatres, annual almanacs, children’s games and most prominently independence festivals.
Medvedev, Sergei. Rethinking The National Interest: Putin’s Turn In Russian Foreign Policy.
George C. Marshall European Center For Security Studies, 2004, p. 22.
Theiss-Morse, Elizabeth. Who Counts As An American? The Boundaries Of National Identity.
Cambridge University Press, 2009, p. 136.
Yu, Fu-Lai Tony, and Diana Sze Man Kwan. “Social Construction Of National Identity:
Taiwanese Versus Chinese Consciousness”. Social Identities, vol 14, no. 1, 2008, pp. 33-52.
Informa UK Limited, doi:10.1080/13504630701848515.