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National identity

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Title: National identity  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Nationalism, National language, Cultural nationalism, Austrians, National symbol
Collection: Identity, National Identities, Nationalism
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

National identity

National identity is the sense of a nation as a cohesive whole, as represented by distinctive traditions, culture, language and politics. A person's national identity is his/her identity and sense of belonging to one state or to one nation, a feeling one shares with a group of people, regardless of one's legal citizenship status. Scientists see national identity in psychological terms as "an awareness of difference", a "feeling and recognition of 'we' and 'they'".[1]

National identity is not an inborn trait, various studies have shown that a person's national identity results directly from the presence of elements from the "common points" in people's daily lives: national symbols, language, national colours, the nation's history, national consciousness, blood ties, culture, music, cuisine, radio, television, and so on.

The expression of one's national identity seen in a positive light is patriotism, and the negative is chauvinism.


  • Formation and development 1
  • Markers 2
  • Issues 3
  • Other resources 4
  • See also 5
  • References 6

Formation and development

The national identity of most citizens of a state or nation tends to strengthen when the country or nation is threatened militarily, economically or culturally—or when the nation has in fact been totally taken over by an alien empire, as in the case of Poland, which remained totally partitioned among Russia, Prussia (subsequently, Germany) and Austria in the years 1795-1918. Indeed, the formation of nations and sovereign states — whether by fission or by fusion — has historically been promoted by common external threats.

A sense of belonging to a nation may strengthen when an external threat becomes clearer, causing individuals to seek to unite with fellow-countrymen for mutual protection against the common threat. An example is the development of Taiwanese identity (versus Chinese identity), which strengthened after the Republic of China (ROC) became known internationally as "Taiwan" after losing its UN Seat, and particularly starting in the late 1990s when it became clear that "China" (People's Republic of China) threatens Taiwan militarily and to "conquer and unite" Taiwan, especially in the face of increased popular support for Taiwan independence and tries to affect Taiwan's politics through "missile tests" and media rhetoric. Although the official country name is "Republic of China" and its residents have been taught that their country is "China" and self-references in the educational system, textbooks, and school public announcements refer to students as "we Chinese..." in the 1980s and 1990s, growing numbers of adults in the 2000s started identifying themselves as "Taiwanese" in the face of hostile Chinese stance and military threat in the 2000s and the Pan-Green Coalition's promotion of Taiwanese identity.


National identity markers are those characteristics used to identify a person as possessing a particular national identity. These markers are not fixed but fluid, varying from culture to culture and also within a culture over time. Such markers may include common language or dialect, national dress, birthplace, family affiliation, etc.[2]


In some cases where national identity collides with a person's civil identity. For example, many Israeli Arabs associate themselves or are associated with the Arab or Palestinian nationality, while at the same time they are citizens of the state of Israel, which is in conflict with the Palestinians and with many Arab countries. The Taiwanese also face an identity crisis: a conflict of national identity with civil identity, in which residents are issued national identification cards and passports under the country name "Republic of China", but a certain portion of them do not feel comfortable about viewing their country as "China". This is also a reason why the Democratic Progressive Party advocates formal "Taiwan Independence" and renaming the country as "Republic of Taiwan".

Also, there are cases in which the national identity of a particular group is oppressed by the government in the country where the group lives. A notable example was in Spain under the authoritarian dictatorship of Francisco Franco (1939-1975) who abolished the official status and recognition of the Basque, Galician, and Catalan languages for the first time in the history of Spain and returned to Castilian Spanish as the only official language of the State and education, although millions of the country's citizens spoke other languages.

Other resources

  • Anthony D. Smith (Mar 1, 1993). National identity (Ethnonationalism in Comparative Perspective) University of Nevada Press ISBN 978-0-87417-204-1
  • Samuel P. Huntington (May 2004). Who Are We: Test" Huffington Post

See also


  1. ^ Lee, Yoonmi (2000). Modern Education, Textbooks, and the Image of the Nation: Politics and Modernization and Nationalism in Korean Education: 1880–1910.  
  2. ^ Kiely, R.; Bechhofer, F.; Stewart, R.; McCrone, D. (2001). "The markers and rules of Scottish national identity". The Sociological Review 49: 033–55.  
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