The possibility of a postnational identity

Delanty, Gerard (2011) The possibility of a postnational identity. British Sociological Association: 60th anniversary special collection.

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I have selected these articles for their important contribution to contemporary debates around nationalism and multiculturalism. John Rex’s article, 'National Identity in the Democratic Multi-Cultural State', is an excellent example of a careful analysis of the limits and possibility for contemporary European societies to develop postnational identities. It was published, along with my extended response and a subsequent reply by Rex, in 1996, at a time when sociologists were becoming increasingly interested in issues of multiculturalism, the cultural politics of identity and postnational trends in the wider European context. Rex does not use the term postnational, but rather speaks of the challenge of developing a shared political culture of public domain based on egalitarian multiculturalism. The problem his paper is addressed to is in effect whether the politics of cultural difference – whether in the assertion of ethnic or of national identities – can be pursued alongside a politics of egalitarianism. The reconciliation of difference and equality has been widely discussed in the past ten years as a problem for multicultural societies. Ethnic identities are evolving due to the changed dynamics of migration, and the mobilization of ethnic cultures can result in claims-making that is often seen as a challenge to a single national collective identity. Nation states may respond to such developments by exclusionary measures, including new assertions of national identity, or they may adopt more inclusive identities. This was, of course, all occurring at a time when the EU, in the aftermath of the Maastricht Treaty (1992), was beginning to move in the direction of supranationalism. Both of these developments – the continued proliferation of ethnic identities and apparent undermining of national sovereignty – provide the conditions for the emergence of a new nationalism.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: Commentary by Delanty on his selection of three key articles for the BSA Sixtieth Anniversary Special Collection. The collection invites commentary by Britain's leading contemporary sociologists on articles from BSA journals (Cultural Sociology; Sociological Research Online; Sociology; and Work, Employment and Society) that they see as particularly significant.
Schools and Departments: School of Law, Politics and Sociology > Sociology
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
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Depositing User: Library Cataloguing
Date Deposited: 19 Jun 2012 14:58
Last Modified: 04 Sep 2012 13:25
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