DescriptionIt is commonly assumed that we live in an age of unbridled individualism, but in this important new book Montserrat Guibernau argues that the need to belong to a group or community - from peer groups and local communities to ethnic groups and nations - is a pervasive and enduring feature of modern social life.
The power of belonging stems from the potential to generate an emotional attachment capable of fostering a shared identity, loyalty and solidarity among members of a given community. It is this strong emotional dimension that enables belonging to act as a trigger for political mobilization and, in extreme cases, to underpin collective violence.
Among the topics examined in this book are identity as a political instrument; emotions and political mobilization; the return of authoritarianism and the rise of the new radical right; symbols and the rituals of belonging; loyalty, the nation and nationalism. It includes case studies from Britain, Spain, Catalonia, Germany, the Middle East and the United States.
This wide-ranging and cutting-edge book will be of great interest to students and scholars in politics, sociology and the social sciences generally.
Outline of the book 2
1 Identity as a Political Instrument 7
Conflicting identities 7
The role of boundaries 10
Traditional versus modern societies 15
The construction and meaning of identity 16
The consequences of globalization 19
2 Belonging by Choice 26
Belonging and emotion 26
The conditions of belonging 32
Collective identity and the power of symbols 35
Belonging to the nation 43
Collective identity and political mobilization 44
3 Freedom and Constraint 50
Immanuel Kant 51
Michel Foucault 55
Erich Fromm 58
The freedom to belong 61
Alienation, fear of irrelevance and group membership 64
Escaping into new dependencies: addiction 65
4 The New Radical Right and the Resurgence of Authoritarian Politics 71
The rise of authoritarianism 71
The new radical right versus traditional fascism 75
Who votes for the new radical right? 79
‘White resistance’ as a transnational movement 80
The rise of ethno-politics 83
On racism 84
The nation: conflicting views 86
From biological to cultural exclusion 88
5 The Rituals of Belonging 92
The power of symbols 92
The meaning of symbols 97
Ritual and power 98
Ritual and emotions 103
Rituals of ‘inclusion’ and ‘exclusion’ 105
Rites of belonging in modern society 108
Rites of passage 110
‘Exclusive’ and ‘inclusive’ groups and associations 112
6 Loyalty, Citizenship and the Nation 118
On loyalty 118
Three types of loyalty 120
Loyalty, the nation and nationalism 123
National loyalty in peacetime and wartime 128
Loyalty programmes in the USA 130
Scapegoating and dissent 134
Freedom versus conformity 135
‘Authoritarian’ versus ‘democratic’ loyalty 137
The great challenge: turning immigrants into Americans 140
7 Emotion and Political Mobilization 144
Emotion and social action 144
Emotion and the rational imperatives of market capitalism 147
‘Taming’ emotion and the construction of ‘healing spaces’ 153
Emotion and political mobilization 154
“A well-written and wide-ranging overview of many important ideas about belonging.”
Journal of Social Policy
"A thought-provoking book on fundamentally important issues."
"A rich, sound and consistent book within the classical political science tradition."
Journal of Catalan Intellectual History
"In Belonging Professor Guibernau skilfully deconstructs the many differing elements that determine the individual’s identity. In a world where conflicting trends, tendencies and tensions compete to define us, it is a timely analysis of the increasing complexities influencing much of the contemporary human predicament. It will become a standard work on the subject."
Lord Smith of Clifton
"Montserrat Guibernau reformulates the concept of belonging through an in-depth exploration of mechanisms of solidarity and psychological connections between citizens and communities. The author takes us beyond debates on national identity and nationalism by deepening our understanding of loyalty, freedom and trust - three dimensions that have been neglected for too long by social scientists and political authorities - in divided polities. This book is theorerically rich and highly accessible."
Alain Gagnon, Université du Québec à Montréal
"How to define and interpret the relationship between the individual and community? Guibernau demonstrates possibilities of new understanding of this almost secular problem by introducing the newly defined term belonging in mutual tension with identification and nationalism. Theoretical reflections are connected with pressing political problems of our times. This approach is rich on inspiration and intellectual challenge for all social sciences."
Miroslav Hroch, Charles University, Prague
- An original new book by one of the leading experts on nationalism and national identity
- Argues that our need to belong, whether to a nation or a community, is a key feature of modern social life, one that runs against the view that modern societies are characterized by unbridled individualism
- Guibernau examines issues such as the role of emotions in political life, the symbols and rituals of belonging and the rise of the radical right and extreme nationalist movements
- Broadly comparative in character, the book draws on case studies from Britain, Europe, the Middle East and the United States