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Collective identities

“Collective identities are in constant interplay with personal

identities, but they are never simply the aggregate of
individuals’ identities. If collective identity describes what
makes people occupying a category similar, personal identity
is the bundle of traits that we believe make us unique”. 
Francesca Polletta, Collective identity and social movements (2001)
Collective identity
“a shared sense of one-ness or we-ness anchored in real or
imagined shared attributes and experiences among those
who comprise the collectivity and in relation or contrast to
one or more actual or imagined sets of ‘others’”.
David Snow, Collective Identity and Expressive Forms (2001)
Nation: Etymology
 c.1300, from Old French nacion "birth, rank;
descendants, relatives; country, homeland "
 and directly from Latin nationem: "birth,
origin; breed, stock, kind, species; race of
people, tribe", literally "that which has been
 Earliest English examples inclined toward the
racial meaning "large group of people with
common ancestry".
The Gellner Thesis
'Nationalism is not the awakening
of nations to self-consciousness: it
invents nations where they do not

– Ernest Gellner (1965), Thought and Change, p. 169.

Construction of national
Identity: identification, Otherisation
 The notion of historical continuity:
– Invention of Tradition – Eric Hobsbawm
– Foundational Myths – Roland Barthes
 A marked sense of difference between the in-
group and significant Other(s):
– Imagined Communities – Benedict Anderson
– Narcissism of Minor Differences
Links Multiculturalism,
Globalisation, Santa's Workshop:
or full film in one stretch (32 min.)
Multiculturalism, Merkel:
Multiculturalism, Cameron:
Cultural Migration: processes

Acculturation: cultural modification of a

group; adapting to another culture and
adopting its traits. Transition of one culture into

Deculturation: the parallel process that ends

in a loss or uprooting of home culture

Transculturation: the creation of new cultural

phenomena, hybridisation
Integration Policies:

'Physiology: the conversion of absorbed food

into the substance of the body'

The expectation from migrants 'To fully

become part of a different society, country; to
absorb into the culture or mores of a
population or group'
(Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary) assume the identity of the receiving

community (zero-sum game/ dichotomy)
Integration Policies:

Descriptive / Demographic: A social context in which

many different ethnic communities live together
Ideological: An approach to dealing with cultural diversity
that endorses acceptance, equality, and pluralism
“A society that is at ease with the rich tapestry of human life and
the desire amongst people to express their own identity in the
manner they see fit”

Kevin Bloor, Political Scientist in J. Stuart, Unpacking the Impacts of Cultural Diversity: Why
Multiculturalism Matters

Les Banlieux
 “ahistorically transmitted pattern of
meanings embodied in symbols, a
system of inherited conceptions
expressed in symbolic forms by means
of which men communicate, perpetuate
and develop their knowledge about and
attitudes toward life”
 Clifford Geertz
 Culture is
“simply the ensemble of stories we tell
ourselves about ourselves”
Geertz, The Interpretation of Culture

(But are they always the same stories?)

Cultural Shifts:
“a culture […] is always both traditional and creative”.

“The making of a mind is, first, the slow learning of

shapes, purposes, and meanings, so that work,
observation and communication are possible.

Then, second, but equal in importance, is the testing of

these in experience, the making of new observations,
comparisons, and meanings.

A culture has two aspects:

– the known meanings and directions, which its
members are trained to;
– the new observations and meanings, which are
offered and tested.“