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The Social Construction of Nationalism: Sweden as an Example

  • Patrik Hall
Publiceringsår: 1998
Språk: Engelska
Dokumenttyp: Doktorsavhandling
Förlag: Lund University Press


In this thesis, nationalism is seen as a discourse constructed in social relations. Although socially constructed, nationalism still seems like having an impersonal character and the nation is commonly conceived of as a holistic system within which modern political relations are embedded. The author views this discursive character as the consequence of a co-operation between relational power and authoritative knowledge, where intellectuals has had a central role in interlinking the identity of the individual to the identity of the nation. What seems like an impersonal discourse is thus really shaped by the knowledge-power which defines and organises modern social relations. This means that the organisation of social relations must be analysed in an empirical study of nationalism, and in this thesis, the social relations and organisation of intellectuals receive special attention.

The author analyses the social construction of nationalism in Sweden. Two general types of nationalist discourses are identified: the genealogical nationalism of glorious origins and virtues of the Swedish great power and the individualist nationalism of modern Sweden, where national identity is seen to reside within the individual and this individual's relation to nature, history and the state. Three concrete cases of the social construction of nationalism are studied. In the first case, the omnipotent nationalism of Olaus Rudbeck in seventeenth-century Uppsala is considered. Rudbeck's nationalisation of the entire universalist tradition of classical antiquity is an early example of the intellectual establishment of state sovereignty, where Rudbeck's strong personal networks were important for his successful intellectual activity. In the second case, the early nineteenth-century intellectual Erik Gustaf Geijer is studied. Geijer's intellectual development symbolises the transformation from a corporatist conception of the nation to a civic-individualist nationalism, and this intellectual development is intensely connected to changes in Geijer's own relational setting and his narration of his life biography. In the third case, the early twentieth-century Swedish Investigating Committee on Emigration is analysed as an example of the new integrative nationalism which saw the state as the appropriate actor to realise national identity within society and its citizens. The Committee exemplifies the modern official role of professional knowledge of the nation and thus the organisation of nationalism as a discursive practice in the reciprocal establishment of an organised state and an organised academy.


Edens hörsal, Paradisgatan 5H, Lund
  • Erik Ringmar (Dr.)


  • Political Science
  • individualist and integrative nationalism
  • state
  • Nationalism
  • historicity
  • intellectuals
  • discourse
  • power/knowledge
  • social organisation
  • genealogical
  • relational settings
  • Political and administrative sciences
  • Statsvetenskap
  • förvaltningskunskap


  • ISSN: 0460-0037
  • ISBN: 91-7966-525-X

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