Nationalism: Definition and Examples

Nationalism has been defined as an ideology and as a sociopolitical movement, which refers to the relationship between the unity of a nation and politics. Is the identification of a people with the reality, history, language, culture and other characteristics of their nation.

Origins of nationalism

It originated at the time when other concepts and processes such as nation, revolution, independence, etc. emerged. Concepts that They correspond to contemporary history when movements such as the industrial revolution, the liberal revolution, or the independence movements that arose from the end of the 18th century developed.

Previously, in the Middle Ages, nationalism existed, especially related to absolute monarchies. Nevertheless, Since the French Revolution, as a historical fact, modern nationalism arose, followed by the Napoleonic wars that generated a nationalist sentiment against invading armies.


The concept of nationalism is multidimensional and complex, it is more linked to a political ideology. It consists of locating a nation as an insurmountable and unique element of identity, on the basis of their culture, society and territoriality.

Nationalism seeks to constitute all the members of a nation around their national identity with the idea of ​​achieving and maintaining their sovereignty and self-determination.

Depending on the perspective and the framework from which it is approached, nationalism can be both a political and a social or cultural disposition of a country.

Likewise, this term has been applied both to political doctrines and to nationalist movements, which have involved collective social and political movements involving nationalist demands.

As an ideology, it places the nation as the only element of identity around which society is organized for its defense, driven by politics that seeks respect in the nation’s relationship with other countries. Today, it is considered a movement that tries to take advantage of the society united to this feeling of nation to achieve a political objective.

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Main features

Nationalism seeks to have a series of symbols that summon identification about its history, meanings and as nation strengths.

These symbols are usually the national flag, typical foods, dances, sports, music and culture, as well as emblematic places, etc., which, together, seeks to make the country feel proud.

Language has also been an element to promote bonding between citizens, For this reason, in many nations the study or learning of other languages ​​has been eliminated, despite being perceived as a negative action.

Types of nationalism

There are several types of nationalism, which can be seen throughout the history of a country and which respond to specific social and political moments.

Romantic nationalism

It is also known as identity nationalism; its discourse is founded on the basis that it is a unique people, with unique characteristics, that does not resemble another, especially in its culture, language, religion and customs.

Boasting nationalism

It is characterized by being exacerbated or exaggerated and implies excess pride of a nation for the country where it was born or to which it belongs; A nationalist may boast so much about his country that he considers himself superior, which can lead to xenophobia and discrimination against people elsewhere.

Liberal nationalism

Also known as civil nationalism, this It has been defined by political philosophers as being related to the values ​​of freedom, equality, tolerance, and individual rights. It can exist in a non-xenophobic way and with the acceptance of the other under equal conditions.

Civic Nationalism

It is identified as nationalism that makes use of historical elements and facts made by previous generations, links the cultural connections of the present with facts of its ancestors. Find in those actions the reasons to be proud of, such as wars and battles for independence and sovereignty.

Religious nationalism

It is based on the legitimacy that the state gives to a common religion, and it is also identified as a form of ethnic nationalism; two such examples are the Irish, which is associated with Catholicism, and the Indian, which is associated with Hinduism.

Left nationalism

Also known as popular nationalism, brings together the concepts of social justice, equality, sovereignty, self-determination, especially political and economic.

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Some examples

There are many cases that serve as examples, or historical events in which it played a fundamental role, such as:

  • The declaration of the independence of the United States of America, document by which it was proclaimed that the Thirteen North American Colonies, which were at war with Great Britain, defined themselves as thirteen new sovereign and independent states and formed a new nation: the United States.
  • The Spanish War of Independence and the Spanish American Wars of Independence, which were a series of conflicts developed in American lands under the rule of the Spanish Empire, and which took place at the beginning of the 19th century. In these conflicts were the independentist nationalist sides, also called patriots or revolutionaries, and the imperialist, with armies of the crown that fought in favor of the Spanish Monarchy.
  • In addition, the nationalisms that accompanied different revolutions such as the Hungarian revolution of 1848, the Mexican revolution of the early 20th century, the Bolivian revolution of 1952, the Cuban revolution of 1959, among other.

But one of the most prominent cases is that of the Germany of Adolf Hitler, who capitalized on the discontent and failure of the defeat of Germany in World War I, to take advantage of it, manipulate their strategies and conduct their actions on the basis of nationalism towards anti-Semitism.

It has also been studied and proven how the contexts of crisis in a country tend to display nationalisms at any time in history, which shows that nationalism is not something that is from the past, but that it remains today and continues to generate controversy and controversy.

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