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Nationalism involves a strong identification of a group of individuals with a political entity defined in national terms, i.e. a nation. Often, it is the belief that an ethnic group has a right to statehood,[1] or that citizenship in a state should be limited to one ethnic group, or that multinationality in a single state should necessarily comprise the right to express and exercise national identity even by minorities.[2]

It can also include the belief that the state is of primary importance, or the belief that one state is naturally superior to all other states.[3][4] It is also used to describe a movement to establish or protect a homeland (usually an autonomous state) for an ethnic group. In some cases the identification of a national culture is combined with a negative view of other races or cultures.[5]

Conversely, nationalism might also be portrayed as collective identities towards imagined communities which are not naturally expressed in language, race or religion but rather socially constructed by the very individuals that belong to a given nation.[6] Nationalism is sometimes reactionary, calling for a return to a national past, and sometimes for the expulsion of foreigners. Other forms of nationalism are revolutionary, calling for the establishment of an independent state as a homeland for an ethnic underclass.

Nationalism emphasizes collective identity - a 'people' must be autonomous, united, and express a single national culture.[7] However, some nationalists stress individualism as an important part of their own national identity.[8]

National flags, national anthems, and other symbols of national identity are often considered sacred, as if they were religious rather than political symbols. Deep emotions are aroused.[9][10][11][12] Gellner and Breuilly, in Nations and Nationalism, contrast nationalism and patriotism. "If the nobler word 'patriotism' then replaced 'civic/Western nationalism', nationalism as a phenomenon had ceased to exist."[13][14][15]


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