Элэзович Звездана Милутин1, Элэзович Далибор Милорад2
1Институт сербской культуры, г. Лепосавич, Сербия, исследователь - научный сотрудник
2Универcитет в Приштине, Сербия, доктор исторических наук, Кафедра истории

В работе речь идет о национальной идентичности как субъективном ощущении тождества и преемственности человека с его нацией. В работе говорится о различных формах национальной идентичности.

Ключевые слова: культура, миф, национальная идентичность, нация, отдельная личность, сообщество, формы, этническая идентичность


Elezovic Zvezdana Milutin1, Elezović Dalibor Milorad2
1The Institute of serbian Culture Leposavic, Serbia, Research Associate
2University of Pristina, Serbia, PhD, Department of history

This paper discusses the issue of national identity as a subjective feeling of the sameness and continuity of a person with their nation. It also discusses the various forms of national identity.

Keywords: community, culture, ethnic identity, forms, individual., myth, nation, national identity

Рубрика: Политология

Библиографическая ссылка на статью:
Элэзович З.М., Элэзович Д.М. On the national identity and its forms // Гуманитарные научные исследования. 2014. № 12. Ч. 2 [Электронный ресурс]. URL: https://human.snauka.ru/2014/12/9034 (дата обращения: 14.05.2024).

The national identity is a very complex and contradictory concept, in the same way that the concept of nation is complex and contradictory. Numerous definitions of the nation only confirm that the nation is a complex social phenomenon and that substantial differences in the definition of the nation arise when we ask the question of how to determine, examine and establish internal links that connect people to national communities. The nation as a phenomenon of recent historical period has to be analyzed in accordance with the political, technical, administrative, economic, and other conditions and requirements. “Because of that, nations are dual phenomena, designed in its essence from above, but they can be understood if they are analyzed from below” [12, p. 17].

All theories of the nation can be classified into two categories. The first category observes a certain nation as an ethnic community, and the second category observes a certain nation as a political or civil community. However, recently, within the political determination of the nation, theories that observe the nation as a multicultural model have appeared. According to the first, i.e. ethnic definition, a nation is a large social group (community) consisting mainly of people of the same ethnic origin, with a unique theory, common history and culture, and common socio-economic and political interests.

Second or civic model puts a spotlight on belonging to a political community (state) of free and equal citizens, regardless of ethnic origin, with a necessary condition of assimilation of (minority) cultural differences that arise. Many call this model multicultural, provided that the assimilation is not a prerequisite for national identification, but the identification is achieved by preserving different culture traits of ethnic communities [9, p. 115].

The intensity of national identity in both models of the nation is not the same. The intensity is more powerful in the ethnic model than in the political or civil one. On the basis of ethnicity, the boundaries are defined, based on which the separation between “we” and “they” or “ours” and “theirs” is performed. For this reason, the national identity is a multidimensional construct that touches all segments of life spheres and occurs in many combinations of theirs.

The national identity is a subjective feeling of sameness and continuity of a person with their nation, which is formed by a conscious, free and voluntary choice and adoption of the most important traditional values ​​of the nation. Awareness, freedom and voluntariness are decisive factors in the process of constituting the national identity. If they do not exist, then we cannot talk about national identity, but a different psychological state of a person that can occur through assimilation or violent indoctrination. There is no national identity without national consciousness, and also there is no national identity without free and voluntary adoption and selection of traditional values ​​of one’s own nation. It is possible to build a genuine and authentic national identity at a place where identification has its natural flow, and thus contributes to a continuous development and construction of personality.

Theorists generally speak of two models or forms of national identity, so Anthony Smith (Anthony D. Smith) believes that there is a Western and an Eastern model of the nation. The Western model of the nation is based on the spatial perception of the nation as a legal and political community, based on a unique political will, while in the East, the concept of the so-called “Ethnic nation” with elements of the community of birth and native groups has developed [10, p. 26]. The first model is political. It stems from political, i.e. civic conception of the nation. A political unity implies not only a formal affiliation with a particular country through citizenship, but also an informal subjective feeling and desire of individuals to live with others, as part of the same political whole [7, p. 70]. Political unity indicates a certain social space, i.e. precisely marked and limited theory, with which its members identify and of which they think as their own. This is largely what French theorists had in mind when they defined the nation as a community of people who obey the same laws and institutions within the limits of the theory. Thus, the historical theory, legal-political community, legal and political equality of its members, and common civic culture and ideology are the components of the standard Western model of the nation [10, p. 26].

The territorial function of national identity is reflected in a specific geographic area within which the members of a nation live and work, and where their spiritual centers are located. They feed their emotions in those spiritual centers and reinforce awareness of ethnicity and national values. In economic terms, nations seek to establish control over natural and social resources, based on which they perform the division of labor, and encourage the rational use of natural resources and the efficient mobility of social potential [10, p. 33]. In this composition, the national identity can be defined as cultural and political connecting of members in a given political community as a whole, on the basis of accepted social values ​​and symbols, which provide for the integration of individuals and classes in a superb community [5, p. 76]. Togetherness at the level of value “gives the nation as a social group the properties of cohesion, in which the members feel special and mutual connection, which makes them different from other individuals and communities.” Normative standards on which the social order is based are nothing but interpretations of community, which presupposes agreement on the decision making institutional framework [8, p. 47, 203].

The national identity that rests on territorial, i.e. political grounds is based on the values ​​that are embedded in a common state and culture that provide individuals a general framework for behavior and existence in a given political community. The state is above all a protector, not of religion, but culture. For most people, the boundaries of their culture are not the boundaries of the world, but the boundaries of their own power, and therefore the boundaries of pride [4, p. 157]. This type of identity does not require homogenization on ethnic grounds. The ethnic is not determinative to complete the identification of one’s own “I” with the nation that is perceived as “we.” This type of identity, in the opinion of Western theorists, is a synonym for the formation of an open society despite the fact that many ethnic communities, which do not have a long tradition in the territory, are forced to suppress and conceal the basic features of their ethnic identity, in order to ensure minimum conditions for survival and subsistence in the foreign land. The relationship of this type of identity to those who do not belong to their nation is tolerant and is based on respect for diversity. The Western or political type of national identity is called modern, because it stems from the modern formation of the nation, while the ethnic model is called traditional, and sometimes conservative, because preference is given to important historical components that determine the nation and national identity.

To understand the ethnic essence of national identity, first one has to determine the ethnic community. Although this term is very often encountered, both in everyday linguistic communication and in professional literature, its meaning is still rather vague and imprecise. The effort to give it a precise meaning even nowadays faces large dilemmas. The problem is, above all, establishing the basic criteria that would separate the ethnic community from other social groups or communities that also have some special features, similar to the ethnic community. Let us mention this: the characteristics of a language, national costumes and folklore, which are not expressed to such a degree that their holders would be called ethnic groups or ethnic communities [11, p. 327]. Common culture, history and traditions are mentioned most frequently as the basis of ethnic communities, while there are certain concepts, according to which, an ethnic community is “a group of people who, based on similarities in the external appearance or clothing or both, grow a subjective belief in a common origin” [2, p. 17]. To become a historical category, an ethnic community has to know its own history, to experience it and pass it down from generation to generation. “Without experiencing, it is impossible to renew the memory of ancestors” [7, p. 118]. The experience of community is the experience of the entire history, and the belief in a common origin explains this history and gives it meaning in its uniqueness. “Belief in the tribal kinship, regardless of whether it rests on an objective basis, can have significant consequences” [3, p. 296]. The specificities of ethnic communities are determined by several factors, such as the common ancestors, myths and legends, historical fate, common culture, language, religion, the same or similar customs.

Ethnic characteristics represent cognitive reference points within which the behavior of certain individuals takes place. Ethnicity, taking the myth as a social designation, indicates the history of the ethnic identity, i.e. its primordial characteristic. Thus, the ethnic community is a type of cultural collectivity, a type that puts the emphasis on the role of myths of lineage and historical memories, and which is identified by one or more cultural differences, for example, by religion, customs, language or institutions. The myth of common ancestry has the most crucial role in the ethnic community. For this reason, it has a dominant role in ethnic identification. Without the myth of lineage and ancestry, it is difficult to imagine a permanent survival of an ethnic community: “Because, without knowing where we came from, it is difficult to understand who we are” [10, p. 39, 42].

Similarly, common historical memories may have a mythical meaning. For many nations, the boundary between the myth and history was often unclear or did not exist, and today it is not clear where the myth and historical memories are deeply rooted in the national identity. The national identity that has ethnic support points out a sense of common origin, refers to common history and destiny, known only to its nation, and in which various myths, legends, memories, common symbols and values are rooted. The national identity is, in this context, built on the basis of simultaneous attraction between those who see themselves as members of the same species and the resentment towards those who are perceived as foreigners [5, p. 76].

The ethnic identity is a first-class dimension of belonging, both we belonging to an ethnic community and the ethnic community belonging to us. it represents that border on which the separation of myths, historical memories, symbols and all other elements that make an ethnic group specific, valuable and distinct from other ethnic groups, take place. For this reason, ethnicity is considered to be a fundamental framework for self-determination, since individuals experience identification as ethnic self-identification, by which they appropriate and incorporate basic ethnic values ​​into their personalities. On this basis, on the level of collective identity, values ​​and orientations are selected – based on belonging and on the basis of that belonging, the notion of “us” is constituted, where “we” as a collective system are identified by main ethnic values.

In this respect, ethnic identity is in a superior position in relation to personal identity. This supremacy stems from the experience of “we” as something universal, which should serve as a model for other identifications. “Ethnic identity is expressed through the choice of ethnic designation” [1, p. 188]. On the basis of the value of ethnic designation, Antony Smith defines national identity as “an immanent human population that possesses a historical theory, common myths, historical memories, a mass, public culture, a common economy and common legal rights and duties for all members of the nation” [10, p. 73]. The above values ​​have a generally accepted meaning. In this sense, the myths of common ancestry are the most important or play a crucial role. The mythical designation is shown “through all visible signs that can be mobilized and chosen in order to typically describe or present a specific ethnic “I” [1, p. 189].

Ethnic identity is both individual and collective, as it involves assuming the values ​​of the ethnic community, on the basis of which the individual is different from others in the ethnic community, i.e. on the basis of which the identity of an ethnic community is different from the identity of other ethnic communities. Due to individuality and collectivity, ethnic identity can be determined by belonging – in reference to the collective, and by possession of certain particularities – in reference to a person. This makes it a paradox, because it is aimed at identifying oneself with simultaneous adaptation to others in the ethnic community. Thus, ethnic identity assumes a two-way movement. First, it is turned to the past, and as such assumes a static, i.e. unchanging meaning. Second, it is turned to the future, to which it has to adjust in order to preserve the basic ethnic values. This makes ethnic identity variable and dynamic, because it adapts to the challenges that assimilation and integration have in themselves.

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