2012 Философия. Психология. Социология Выпуск 2 (10)


УДК 316.454.2



Rudolf Rizman

Conceptions of identity in the age of globalization are discussing in the article. Author suggests that even if the nation-states would really be declining, the revival of ethnic and other identities is likely expected.

Key words: globalization; uncertainty; regionalization; identity; nation-state; ethnicity.

Discussing identity in the age of globalization requires departure from conventional analyses in this area. Such a distancing involves several constituents implying both the novel methodological and sociologically substantive approaches. While the first methodological alternation refers to the urgency of applying innovative sociological paradigm to adequately understand the added and changed complexity of identity, the other, substantive notion, implies the recognition of multiple social factors, which frame and determine, respectively, contemporary phenomenon of identity.

In part, this contribution conceptually attempts to relate to the assumptions that Umut Ozkirimly introduced in his study on the theories of nationalism. The assumptions were as follows: (1) there is no commonly accepted theory of identity; (2) there is no just one identity; (3) common discourse can unite diverse forms of identity; (4) identity can only be effective if it is reproduced on daily basis; and (5) difference of identity should inform and lay grounds for a necessary redefinition of identity. Another and more convincing and substantial conceptual contribution was suggested by Delanty and Rumford [5]. The authors assume a realistic view that identity represents group conscience — emotion that expresses collective “we”. Four salient aspects of identity need to be seriously taken into consideration. First, identity as unfolded in its relation to social action can reveal itself as proces-

sual or constructed. Secondly, identities embody narrative dimension, they are narratives with the aim to establish themselves as continuous processes. Thirdly, identity uses symbolical repertoire by which it emphasizes differences, that is their persistence in a relational context. Fourthly, any deliberation on identities should include the answer to the question about overlapping identities, which do not eliminate themselves; they do in most cases co-habitate. When it comes to personal identities, it should be mentioned that they are rarely limited to just one identity — they are obviously more and at different stages of expressing their mutual tensions.

Social sciences in the last ten years or so to some extent enabled themselves in coping with such an ambitious task. Quite a number of scholars from different disciplines (sociology, political sciences and others) developed and offered in this regard promising contributions, which can be and should be applied in order to unbind and rethink the present unfolding and eventual structuring of identity. One of the most plausible propositions is the call for “a new paradigm” as imperative requirement to fully understand today’s world [19]. It was argued that during last two hundred years and until recently social world was studied exclusively by an economic and social paradigm while in the post-industrial age there unfolded the obvious need for a new paradigm, which would be able

Rizman Rudolf — professor of Department of Sociology, Faculty of Arts, University of Ljubljana; Askerceva 2, 1001, Ljubljana, Slovenia; rudi.rizman@guest.arnes.si.

to identify the new actors and processes in this domain.

Post-industrial societies arguably left behind them technological determinism and instead replaced it with information society. The last mentioned dramatic social transformation is in the main responsible for the withering away of social language about society in favour of cultural language. Thus one could speak about the paradigmatic shift from society (collective) to culture, which, for good and bad, contributed toward social de-composition, de-socialization and eventually to the triumph of individualism. The establishment of completely new differences between less than solidly imagined actors, individuals in the first instance, took prevalent mode of communication in today’s advanced societies. It is thus quite obvious that previous political paradigm was or should be, respectively, replaced by cultural paradigm.

But this is not the whole truth about the historical trajectory that we are talking about. According to Zygmunt Bauman [2, p. 1-4], globalization gives birth to historically new uncertainties, which change the frames of references for both the concerned social phenomena and the contents of human actions. To identity relevant shifts it is in particular necessary to note the following trajectories: (1) transition from ‘solid’ to ‘liquid’ phase of modernity; (2) the separation and eventually divorce of power and politics; (3) withdrawal of communal, state-endorsed protection of individuals against failure and ill fortune; (4) weakening or even elimination of long-term thinking and moreover disappearance of social structures, based on responsible and sustainable human reflection; and, last but not least, (5) individual agency and acting do not rely anymore on externally imposed recipes

— individuals are taking the flexible stand, which means that they are prone to change their behavioural patterns and styles at short notice, without a regret.

How are these incarnations in particular affecting either in whole or partly complex and multifaceted identities? The related question can be also posed like this: does globalization make people more similar or more different; does it encourage homogenization or heterogenization of identi-

ties? Jan Aart Scholte [15, p. 25-27] does not offer any definitive answer in this regard. Much is depending on one’s perspective. Both, homogenization and cultural diversity had its day. Neither can be treated in either affirmative or negative sense; both can entail progressive universalism or oppressive imperialism. The so-called “glocalization” thesis has stressed that large-scale globalization empowered many national or ethnic groups strong impulses to further promote their national or ethnic differences. However, there is more of what the defenders of globalization are boasting of: namely, that globalization was instrumental of intercultural constructions of being and belonging; that is of producing new cultural combinations, which occurred thanks to the increased blurring of distinctions between nations and between civilizations. More optimistic scholars in this area suggested that globalization can be easily associated with ‘creoli-zation’ and ‘hybridization’, while some even hinted that such developments gave birth to alternative forms and founded the basis for ethics of identity politics. The latter clearly distanced itself from parochially (in)formed dualistic ‘us-them’ opposition, where it is routinely clearly defined who belongs to whom and to what.

Studying the fate of identities in the age of globalization presents an opportunity to deepen our awareness of its complexity on the one hand and on the other to identify the new challenges and opportunities with regard to identities. Fruitful theoretical proposition can be arguably found in the thesis that “the global is in good part constituted inside the national” [14, p. viii, 3-23]. This authoress further argues that globalization should not be reduced to the simple fact of ever growing interdependence and the emergence of global institutions. Although many core social processes transcend the extant nation(al) states, they do still play the role of the key container of social processes. Since it is also obvious that national territory implies its correspondence with nation, national institutions can not be other than national. Nonetheless, the transnational processes — economic, political, and cultural — as such transcend the confines of national states, which confront social sciences with many new theoretical and methodologi-

cal tasks. In this sense Sassen broadens the extant understandings of globalization, which should not be reduced to the notions of interdependence and global institutions, but needs to address its much more sociologically complex content of national.

The main scholarly effort in this regard should be thus focused on those crucial processes that can be branded as “localization of the global”. Such a framing of this issue points, according to Sassen, to “detecting the presence of globalizing dynamics in thick social environments that mix national and non-national elements”. The analytic agenda is thus vastly expanded and offers many and completely new opportunities for a scrutinized research of particular either nationally or subnationally embedded formations and processes and in particular their “recoding as instantiations of the global”. Exploring this diversity involves meeting differences rather than only hinting to parallels, what seems to be much richer and more elaborate research challenge. At this stage, national and national states, respectively, are still greatly participating in the making of global systems. However, national in the wider sense is not the only social force, which is challenging globalization (and vice versa), one should as well take note of the agency of subnational levels, which enter the processes of more definite constituting of global social outcomes.

Considering strictly sociological concern, global and national are part of a variety of negotiations between the global and the national. Even globalizing and denationalizing dynamics are clothed or represented in most cases as local and national. As a result, we witness multiple and specific structurations of the global within what was until recently conceived as merely national. In order to reveal the deeper insight into these structurations, Sassen proposed that scholars in this area should study the following three instances bearing on their concerned conceptual, methodological, and empirical interests. First studied instance should be related to the role of determinants (circles, circuits, ranges, etc.) that constitute economic, political, and cultural globalization. Not least important is the second instance, which stresses the role of the new interactive technologies in redefining and repositioning the local constitu-

ent within the wider globalization context. Third instance refers to a specific set of interactions — also linkages — between global dynamics and particular constituents of national states. Altogether they convincingly demonstrate the limits and suggest the ways to move beyond what was before the advent of globalization the mainstream usage of methodological nationalism. This aim — to conceptualize the national interactions within the global dynamics — is one of the most demanding and critical requirements before a researcher targets (national) identity as a valid topic of scholarly analysis.

The above depicted assumptions reject over-simplictic notion about the fatal crisis of nation for which is responsible globalization. The reality around us rejects itself such claims: as can be easily noticed, quite a number of new nations (states) emerged and are still emerging under present unfolding of globalization. If one speaks about the passing of territorialism, this does not merely imply the passing of territoriality in the domains of geography; the same applies to the end of nationalism, which according to Scholte [19, p. 226] does not entail the end of nationality in the sphere of identity. It is no doubt, too irresponsible for scholars to speak about the rise of ‘postnational’ era as it happens rather often. No more nations would as well imply the withering away of those identities that are grounded on historically moulded ethnic material. If we consider globalization as a very novel, recent historical phenomenon, then teleology, in the sense of predicting the ending of this or that social phenomenon, is far from assuring a valid cognitive result. It is nevertheless true that developments of information technology, in particular in communications, are responsible for the emergence of complex cultures and multiple identities, where it is difficult to recognize at first sight the traces or contributions of individual collectives. But such a difficulty is arguably the consequence of assuming that identities and collective groups behind them are immutable and without a potential to undergo transformations.

Moreover, John Hutchinson [10, p. 89] rightly argued that while in Europe nations and nationstates vary considerably in the social niches they

wish to mould; this is not necessarily and automatically determining the potency of national identities per se. Here the author refers to those scholars who claim that a switch from avowedly national to transnational (international) loyalties may not result in changes attributed to national affiliations. In this case we are deliberating about two issues that must not be confused: on the one hand strategic decisions of concerned national groups over the range of roles that need to be regulated, and on the other hand on why there emerge certain fluctuations in the salience and in-strumentalization of particular national identities. Globalization seems to encourage changes in the manifold manifestations of national identity. Moreover, much softer grip of nation-states on identities enabled them to enlarge their repertoire of potential forms: substate, transstate and supra-state ones. Supraterritorial identities now touch more people in the world than in any other period of human history. The pluralization of national and other types of identities under contemporary globalization thus added to the already extant diversification in this area.

More intellectually productive way to discuss (national) identities in the global context is one offered by Montserrat Guibernau [7, p. 257-263]: it basically analyses the strategies employed by the classical nation-state in order to generate a homogeneous national identity among its citizens, which has been in recent time substantially transformed under the impact of globalization. Why is national identity one of the most powerful expressions of collective identity? Guibernau offers convincing answer by deconstructing its essential building material. It is based upon the sentiment of belonging to particular nation, endowed with its own symbols, traditions, sacred places, ceremonies, heroes, history, culture and territory.

Besides common identity and emotional charge that bond solidarity among members of a given community, Guibernau raised the issue of a political dimension embedded to national identity. This dimension is fundamental condition for the establishment of right and power to decide more or less on daily bases about crucial political decisions of the nation they belong to. Globalization inter-

vened in the conventional ways how nation-states promoted cultural (and other forms of) homogenization of their populations. In the past it was through forced assimilation and other case through even more extreme ways (from crude repression to genocide) that nation-states suppressed internal cultural differences in favour of a core, state promoted national identity. The officially sanctioned identity was, of course, that of a dominant nation or ethnic group.

The intensification of globalization processes pushed nation-states to modify, if not transform, their strategy of both conceiving and framing what is usually understood under national identity. To put it differently, national minorities and various ethnic groups used and are using globalization to promote their distinctive identities. More pronounced international visibility limits the repertoire of available repressive measures by which nation-states have been treating less privileged group identities to express and promote themselves both internally and in the international arena. Despite their attempts in the past to homogenize their cultural spaces, most of the present nation-states stay multinational and multi-ethnic. Thus it could be said that nation-states are after a long, too long, historical process becoming real states by abolishing prefix nation, which was nothing less than an Orwellian attempt to hide the ethnically plural constitution of more than 90 percent of present states in the world.

Contrary to some claims that globalization threatens the identities as we know them, Tomlinson [9, p. 160] argues that it presents a strong force in creating and proliferating them. Globalization produces identities, where before none existed. This ‘production’ pertinent to modern society is not, however, anarchic, but is characterized by forming institutions as frames within which identities live their more or less autonomous life. Institutionalization and regulation do not necessarily directly affect identities, since this can be achieved often indirectly, that is, through the agency of regulating the cultural practices. Those who regard globalization as a threat to cultural identity ignore its institutional frame and consider it as a merely existential possession, a kind of a collective treas-

ure of this or that ethnic community, which needs privileged (political) protection in order to survive in culturally hostile environment.

Identities in modern societies are not as vulnerable and fragile as some authors are arguing. They are instead, as Castells was arguing in his work titled The Power of Identity [4], more robust, which permits one to draw inner logic between the globalization process and the institutionalized construction of identities. Behind particular identities there lies powerful existential complexity behind them, which can mobilize more manifest, if not latent collective demands. Moreover, globalization unfolds the relative independence of culture from place against various threats to establishing the dominance — as was the case so often in the past

— of some particular geographically defined culture. This fact confirms the view that identity does not merely expresses this or that modality of subjectivity, but another sociologically much more relevant phenomenon of institutional embeddement of identity in the present establishment of global modernity. According to Tomlinson [9, p.163-164], globalization by proliferating localisms and sharpening the identity discrimination all over the world, at the same time pluralizes universality. This very well justifies highly plausible expectation among various scholars that cosmopolitanism may yet again, this time with more convincing sociological grounds, develop into a viable political project.

Cosmopolitanism enters many and multiple manifestations of everyday individual and social life: economic sphere, media and communications technology are on daily basis entering our homes, intensified mobility and foreign travels, last but not least, our “food culture” is to greater extent informed by external sources. John Urry [20, p. 137] thus rightly observes that the most powerful sets of dispositions in the contemporary world are therefore neither localist nor global. They do unfold according to Derrida’s idea of “think travel”, which Zygmunt Bauman in Liquid Modernity [2, p. 207] sketched with the following words: “the trick is to be at home in many homes, but to be in each inside and outside at the same time, to combine intimacy with the critical look of an outsider, involvement

with detachment”. This condensed statement implies that ‘local’ and ‘cosmopolitan’ are far from being necessarily counterposed. Cosmopolitan identity mix, as Urry further argues, enables people to live simultaneously in both the global and the local, in the distant and proximate, in the universal and the particular. We can never detect pure and simple ‘cosmopolitanism’; it would be much more properly to use instead the notion of ‘glocalized cosmopolitanism’. This represents indeed a very vast and rich ground for the emergence of ‘glocal-ized cosmopolitan’ identities, practices and cognitive patterns which somehow order the otherwise much chaotic cultural life under the dominion of globalization as such.

Identity is these days no more fixed, almost “eternal”, as it used to be before the advent of globalization. The idea of fluidity takes a prominent role in explaining the vicissitudes and the contingency nature of this often elusive phenomenon. The fluid nature of identity was for this very reason deconstructed into the following distinguishing parameters: in term of its rate of flow, its viscosity, its depth, its consistency and its confinement to some pertinent channels of its unfolding [20, p. 42,109-110]. These are obviously not some wild or spontaneously triggered processes, which could be considered as free from any outside regulation or moulding. This world is still to a greater extent ‘state centric’, namely in the sense that the turbulent nature of the global complexity, paradoxically, increases the role of the state(s) as provider or enabler, respectively, of cultural powers of given territory and promoter of new spatial configurations. The point is, however, that states lost their previous capacity to ‘engineer’ identity in the sense of a property of unchanging community of fate (nation). States still, and will do so for a long time, set legal, economic and social rules. The other consequence of their acting since World War II and in particular under transformed global circumstances is their enormous expansion with a view to nation-state structures, bureaucracies, agenda, revenues, military power and regulatory empowerments.

Relationship between globalization and localization is not only synergetic. As any other con-

trasting social process, it obviously involves con-flictual and antagonistic relations. This can on the one hand eventually bring new and added identity material that leads to its enrichment, but on the other we should not ignore the fact that such processes include as well the notion of imposition or domination, respectively, which can be destructive of some identities due to their underprivileged or powerless position. There is indeed a cluster that could be termed “resistance identities” [4, p. 356], which opposes the extant and imposed social ordering and which, if successful, can broaden the social space that facilitates freer development for ‘weak” and therefore vulnerable identities.

Reflecting upon identity issues, one needs to raise scholarly valid question, how to avoid in this endeavour the pitfalls of ‘essentialism’? Rigid ‘identity politics’ is certainly destined to end in such a flawed direction, burdened by methodological individualism. Arif Dirlik and Roxann Prazniak [13, p. 3-12] therefore suggested to distinguish between the claims to identity of the powerful and the powerless — the last being systematically threatened by their extinction. More proper methodological path toward encapsulating the real nature of identity is by recognizing their concrete structural locations. This path is much more promising than the mere recapitulation of already tired debates between primordialist and constructionist grasping of identity. Although identity enjoys quite transparent and unavoidable autonomy, two sociological anchors ultimately provide the needed social material for its formation: on the one hand cultural nationalism per se and on the other ‘placed-based consciousness’. The latter is, according to above mentioned authors, vitally important for a number of reasons. Placed-based determination of identities can in a number of different circumstances help to provide more or less lasting solutions to conflicts in this domain, which came about in a much wider social context: what above mentioned authors have in mind here, is the mediating role of the extant nation-states between economic forces and affected places as containers of this or that particular identity.

Several scholars, among them Arjun Ap-padurai [1, p. 15-16] introduced into the debates re-

garding identity the notion of culturalism, which both in epistemological and broader practical sense denotes identity politics at the level of nation-state. Besides the nation state, culturalism encapsulates as well a number of social groups, which are consciously mobilising themselves according to iden-titarian criteria. There are several uses of cultural-ism — most of them with the added prefix multi or inter, thus multiculturalism and interculturalism. The repertoire of this kind of identity spans over many and multiple distributive notions implying various entitlements, these are sometime involving the considerations of life and death, but in general in accordance with classification and policies regarding this or that dimension of group identity. Culturalism performs itself both within the framework of a larger national as well as transnational politics. It ultimate end is obviously clothed into struggles for stronger recognition from existing nation-states or, when this becomes urgent, from various transnational authorities. In the broader sense, as Appadurai suggests, culturalism employs in particular those cultural differences, which are carrying more salient social weight, as for example, in the areas of mass mediation, migration, and ultimately globalization. In order to justify cul-turalist or identity claims, respectively, their protagonists rely on deliberate vocabulary in their struggle with states and other competing culturally focused groups. The available “material”, which culturalism vastly exploits is mainly centred on the issues associated with this or that particular issue of identity, culture and heritage.

Although in different contexts concerned actors expose some particular or sensitive content cluster of identity, one of them nevertheless enjoys privileged treatment, namely national identity. National identity is, historically speaking, of a more recent origin that replaced earlier notions of national character and national consciousness. Anthony Smith [16, p.17-20] explains wider use of national identity with the broader trend of contemporary individualism and to some extent as a consequence of anxiety and alienation of many people in an increasingly fragmented world. This concept has a heavy ambivalent load: it can be equally viewed as a core ideal of nationalism (nationalist

movement) and as an analytical concept. In order to streamline the scholarly understanding of national identity, Smith proposed the following plausible definition: “the continuous reproduction and reinterpretation of the pattern of values, symbols, memories, myths and traditions that compose the distinctive heritage of nations, and the identification of individuals with that pattern and heritage and with its cultural elements.”

To follow the same author’s lead, it is of utmost relevance to distinguish two relationships in the proposed definition. The first is between collective and individual levels of analysis, and the second, between continuity and change of identity. It is equally important to pay further attention to the situational character of ethnic and national identities in the sense of a variety of as well other collective affiliations, which in today’s modern world (re)introduce themselves under the label of “multiple identities. This later involves range of identities starting with the family circle and up to the circle of humanity. Here one should add that from the individual standpoint, collective identities offer a number of opportunities for choosing identities according to contingency situation and individuals’ cultural affinities. Here we need to note that some types of collective identities like classes, regions, and interest groups in most cases dissolve after they reach their aims, while cultural collectivities are much more stable due to their longitudinal attachments on memories, values, symbols, myths and traditions. The identity should be viewed both as stable and dynamic social phenomenon. One could not speak about identity, if it would not persist (sameness over time) at least for a certain historic period — and change can only operate within the culturally transparent boundaries.

Identities take quite some historic time to be eventually able to reproduce themselves and preserve their cultural core for the future and its challenges. Some larger political units and cultural spaces strive hard presently to develop it. The most obvious case is that of the European Union, which promotes the slogan of “unity in diversity” with an aim to arrive at its own, thus invented, identity. Up to now it was not yet convincingly proved how to

establish European identity and the same time to leave national identities untouchable. One side — Europhiles — in this deliberations argues that it is worth to pay the price in order to establish European identity for a number of reasons (prom prevention of war to reduce xenophobias), while the other side — Eurosceptics — fear that the loss of national identity can only serve the aims of greater nations and powers in the European Union and can ultimately break the social and cultural cohesion of smaller and middle size European nations. As it is now, European policies (directives) obligatorily proceed through the national states and their institutions and it is therefore hard to believe that European Union has the means and necessary will to implement the idea of European identity at the cost of extant national identities.

Global cultural convergence towards common identity seems to be even more distant phenomenon than European culture or identity, respectively. On the impact of globalization as far as culture and identity is concerned there are contradicting contentions. According to John Tomlinson, some claim that it is destructive in particular of national identity against those who recognize globalization as “the most significant force in creating and proliferating cultural identity” [17, p. 236-237]. Intensified globalization processes were largely responsible for a dramatic rise of social movements based and organized around identity related to gender, ethnicity, gender, nationality, religion and others. Globalization namely problematized identity in many parts of the world, where previously it did not enjoy any privileged or focused concern. Although central, identity was only one among many other expressions of attachments and belongings in contemporary world. Besides producing and inventing new identities, globalization was equally instrumental in transforming national and other salient identities. How to negotiate this new challenging cultural and political complexity become one of the most pressing issues both in social sciences and political praxis.

Anthony Smith [17, p. 278-286] does not invest much in the emergence of global culture, which is still to vague and imprecise to deserve serious attention. It could make sense, if national

identity would show convincing signs of its waning, but this is still far from being the case. According to Smith “(N)ational sentiments and values in respect of continuity, shared memories and a common destiny still pervade many given collectivities, which have had a common experience and distinctive history”. A global change in the technical and linguistic infrastructure of communication does not by itself support expectations that global culture and identity, respectively, will supersede the world of nations. Instead of increased global affective ties, one can nevertheless witness the rise of cosmopolitan awareness. Does national identity always trump globally (in)formed forms of commonality? New networks of international elite (international bureaucrats and multinational business executives, for example) are no doubt more internationally minded and open to global influences. However, according to Pipa Norris, this class represents a very small minority, which is far from performing a major impact on their background societies [17, p. 237]. What is significant, however, is generational divide. Generations born after the Second World War, influenced and brought up with MTV, CNN and the Internet, are more inclined toward interpreting their politics as internationalist, that is, supportive of the United Nations system and international legal values as such. This, however, still leaves open the question, whether such a significant generational change is or will open the way toward qualitative evolution of present frames of identity in the direction of globally determined consciousness.

Cosmopolitan perspective should not be viewed through the lenses of either-or, but complimentary to national identity in the sense of softening, if not reducing, its exclusiveness. According to Ulrich Beck [3, p. 36], cosmopolitanism does not necessarily exclude national or local identity. To live cosmopolitan life means exercising dual loyalties: to be both a citizen of the cosmos and at the same time keeping its loyalty to its (nation-) state. Using the language of metaphors, each citizen possesses both roots and wings. Old distinctions between “us” and “them” lost in the global era their sharpness; they do not in any deterministic way neither prescribe nor establish any

absolute exclusion. Hopefully, the antagonistic “either-or” principle promises to be eventually replaced by the “both-and” principle. In sociological terms this invites a solid construction of a ‘dual lo-catedness’ for all. Although quite a fresh inside into the global repositioning of collective and individual identity shift, Beck’s pro-cosmopolitan stand does not elaborate further, what remains with the uneven distribution of power between various (national) identities, which either provide economic or cultural support or lack of it?

Most national identities can count on selfdetermination, while in cosmopolitan perspective somehow eliminates the question — against whom? How can winners and losers co-habituate when it comes to consummation of the principle of self-determination? [3, p. 93, 259] here avoids the ultimate answer by suggesting that in an era of cultural globalization and ethnic-national plurality, this possibility is dependent on the existence of post-national and plural-national state, which is neutral towards and tolerant of nationality. This is highly normative proposition and one can only wonder to what really existing fragment in the world of nations can it relate? This perspective is obviously dependent on Beck’s further presupposition that reality reaches the ideal of world-wide acknowledging both the equality and difference at the same time. Ethnically based states hardly recognize any minority within their midst and no validity of universalistic values in this regard. The solution that Beck devises lies in a paradoxical alliance evolving between ethnicists and globalizers, which creates less exclusive and more favourable conditions for its re-ethnicization.

In the context of available plural identities, national identity arguably often plays a functional role with a regard to solidarity. Solidarity is particularly important when the cultural group has been victimized and struggles to overcome such an unfortunate fate. The case for national identity is under such circumstances often made by nationalism, which is modern way of responding to the threat usually represented by the advances of modernization (globalization). To the members of threatened cultural community, defending identity carries with itself a duty to preserve their collective

dignity. The core constituents of identity in the (post)modern world are to gain both the internal and external recognition. In this sense, contemporary politics is nothing less or more than a species of identity politics par excellence. Having said this, we should be at the same time aware of the fact that any identity is vulnerable to non-recognition from the side of dominant groups, but equally so from influential international actors. Nations lack something of a crucial and cohesive importance, if they fail to provide their members certain sense of meaning or identity. Also the very governing of nations reflects their characteristic manner of expressing their collective and cultural, respectively, identity. This is why no progressive stand, in particular liberalism, can be indifferent to concerns about national identity [18, p. 9, 235-236, 305310].

Another relevant question concerns depicting dividing lines between various social spheres. There is no doubt that the dividing line between ethnic and class identity is much sharper than that between religious and ethnic identity. While class collectives rarely overlap with ethnic identity, this is often the case between ethnic and religious identities. For lower classes to possess some exclusive identity they would need to rely on elite with appropriate skills and communication competences in order to be able to sustain and reproduce some particular identity within the larger society [16, p. 182-185]. Sociological (re)construction of any identity is existentially conditioned upon the boundary between “us” and “them”. The great religions provided in this sense vital material and sources for the myth-symbol content of ethnic identities, which is most clearly visible in Islam and Christendom. Religion is, of course, not the only and exclusive contributor toward the whole making of national identity as it presents as well a complex matrix of other contributing social factors.

Recent advent of secular societies has significantly diminished if not eliminated the role of religious factors and increased instead the salience of those factors which are shaped by globalization. This, we could termed it transformative, shift imposes on researchers in this area rethinking of the

broader social context in which identity and identities, respectively are imbedded. Due to the fact that national identity is in many ways dependent and framed by nation-state(s), one of the crucial issues concern their fate in the age of globalization. Mainstream social scientists are not of the same mind in this regard. [16, p. 213-218], for example, does not share those influential views which anticipate that nation-state, ethnic nationalism, national identities and nationalism-in-general had run their course. A number of scholars of postmodernist brand namely claim that the nation-state is becoming increasingly irrelevant as an ultimate consequence of global economic interdependence and cultural globalization. More radical voices in this vein even consign nationalism to the ‘great museum’ of tourist history.

It should be noted, however, that nations have much greater durability than other kinds of groups [8, p. 94-101]. On the other hand, not all culturally distinct collectivities necessarily become political nations (nation-states). National or better to put ethnic identities can accordingly rely on two vital social anchors: on the one hand on nation-state and on the other on autonomous power drawing from cultural world. In both cases identity as such derives from historically generated division of labour which is pertinent to any human society. Cultural division of labour can be considered as the most important and valued sources of this kind of identity. Identities in addition fulfil individual and collective choices which are linked with their specifically and culturally embedded perceptions of what is required for society which pretends to fulfil the idea of imagined or good society. The core aim of cultural nationalism was to invent national identity and to suborn it to other identities, which were previously centred on family, class and religion.

Identities in general assume some of the markers of individuals [6, p. 25-28] and national identity is not an exception in this regard. Much of the content of national identity, however, is determined by the specific nature of this or that nationalism. Aggressive nationalisms leave their marks in appertaining national identities: such a type of national identity is hostile towards any sign of their openness and more or less pluralistic composition.

Liberal nationalisms, on the other hand, deliberately invite “foreign” influences and introduce their national identities as multiple identities. While in the first case national identities are characterized by upholding a strong notion of “We” and aprioristic exclusiveness, the later leave much more space inclusive and continuously transforming nature of identity. Much, of course, depends on contextual factor: if some identity is in fact threatened, their aggressive mood will only accelerate, while in the case of liberal positioning of identity, the emphasis might turn away from its pluralisa-tion toward homogenization. European Union has been, historically speaking, quite successful in stifling to the point aggressive expressions of national identity, which could lead to the pre-war mentality. It was, however, less successful in introducing alternative to national identity in the form of European identity. Most probably, having in mind how long it took national identity to at its historical station, where it is now, we should be more patience — historical time-wise in this regard.

National identities are all too often not taken enough seriously as they should. National identity is in condensed definition individual and group sense of belonging to larger, national community [12, p. 27-33]. Any identity — and national identity in particular — embodies historical (trans-generational) continuity, in this sense it is no more or less sociologically recognizable as an active identity. Another relevant aspect lies in the fact that it connects a distinct group of people to a particular geographical place. This link is considered by the members of ethnic group as “objective” fact, which pre-empts any considerations that they merely happen to be thrown together in one, usually “sacred”, place by mere chance or contingency. National identities arguably embody elements of myth and this fact alone needs further elaboration of its not merely symbolical weight. Much more attention deserves on the other fact such symbols perform real and not only imagined power which fulfils manifold valuable social functions. Much attention has been in this regard focused on the ethnic and civic constituents of national identity. All too often one witnesses in these

area openly biased assumptions subscribing to the notion that “Western” national identities represent civic alternative to exclusively ethnically constructed national identities in the “Eastern” case. It is, however, quite clear, as Kaufmann [11, p. 468] has argued, that already at first sight the history of France, Ireland or the United States prove that these countries equally so experienced with both organic and voluntarist choices.

Far from such views Smith points to those new and powerful social innovation which offer different perspectives on ethnicity and identities. The effects of information technology are much more variable in comparison to what the advocates of rigid cultural globalization are arguing. Information technology, in particular electronic media, introduces old ethnic identities and facilitates the re-imagining of the new ones. Even if the nationstates would really be declining, the revival of ethnic and other identities is likely expected. Ethnic and individual, respectively, identification in essence responds to certain collective needs which start to play even more important role in complex societies. Politically revived ethno-national movements respond to deep seated identity needs pertinent to today’s complex societies. What we are witnessing already is thus not the transcendence of ethnicity but the revitalisation of ethnic ties and their accompanying identities. This is quite logical process, if we rightly assume that, as Anthony Giddens has argued long time ago that global and local feed each other.


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Рудольф Ризман

Философский факультет Университета в Любляне; Словения

В статье обсуждаются концепции идентичности в эпоху глобализации. Автор предполагает, что даже если национальные государства действительно клонятся к упадку, возрождение этнических и других идентичностей является весьма вероятным.

Ключевые слова: глобализация; неопределенность; регионализация; идентичность; национальное государство; этническая принадлежность.