The Interaction of Civic Nationalism and Radical Islam: A Theoretical Examination and Empirical Analysis


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Virginia Tech


This thesis engages the question of the impact of religion on civic nationalism in the western European context. Civic nationalism, it suggests, is an identarian nationalist construct that is pursued by a liberal state's population through various historical linkages, myth construction, modern outlook, and propaganda. (Smith 2001) (Gellner 1997) The central question is whether civic nationalism, as a method of unifying a population, can compete with the concentrated cultural influence of an equally viable identity construction. Radical Islam is the focus point of this comparison. A powerful religious identity, radical Islam instills in its members a similar sense of unity through belief in core values and utilizes the existence of external threats to reinforce its allegiances. Through this theoretical and empirical exercise, the profound challenge of the civic nation to maintain feelings of unity without inspiring the imagination and mysticism usually inherent in nationalism is investigated. A victim of its own values, the civic nation aspires to harness the unifying force of more negative forms of nationalism without the hateful and exclusive practices usually associated with such group identities while also denying the deep theocratic roots that give nationalism its impermeable quality. The competition of these identarian constructions is empirically examined through a multi-form analysis of reactions to the July 7th, 2005 terrorist bombings of the London transportation system.



Civic, Terrorism, Group Identity, Islam, Nationalism