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Nationalism (Concepts in social thought) Paperback – 11 Feb 1998

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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
Solid and well-argued 18 Oct. 2000
By Edward Bosnar - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
The vast literature on nationalism, at least in the English language, is making the need for books like this one increasingly evident. Calhoun's aim in this text is to provide an explanation of nationalism as a historical phenomenon which is still a very active force in the world today. Perhaps his most important point, and one that tends to set him apart from most theorists on nationalism, is that there can be no general theory of nationalism, or no historical "master variable" which can explain its emergence and development. Calhoun correctly notes that it is too diverse a phenomenon to be explained so simply. He argues that nationalism is a process, a way of thinking and acting among people which results from modernity and also continually develops as a response to modernity. It is constructed within the scope of historical development, and acquires different contexts in different places and at different times. This is, of course, a greatly over-simplified summary of a very well-argued text. The only problem is that the book is often difficult to read, as Calhoun tends to engage in restricted academic jargon (e.g. nationalism is constantly referred to as a "discursive formation"). This should not dissuade readers interested in nationalism from reading this book, however. Also, the conclusion is an excellent, concise summation of Calhoun's main arguments, and can stand on its own as a definition of nationalism.
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