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Nationalism in France
The concept of "nation" was born in France, and the word has never been far from the center of French political discourse since. Before 1789 France was not yet a nation; the French people, who had been subjects rather than citizens, became a nation when events turned them into political actors in their own right. Taking into consideration both the liberal...
The concept of "nation" was born in France, and the word has never been far from the center of French political discourse since. Before 1789 France was not yet a nation; the French people, who had been subjects rather than citizens, became a nation when events turned them into political actors in their own right. Taking into consideration both the liberal and classic Marxian approaches though not necessarily subscribing to either, Brian Jenkins asserts that, although the complex history of nationalism in France is closely interwoven with French social, economic, and cultural evolution, the phenomenon is primarily political, and is therefore characterized by diversity. It is not possible to talk of nationalism, only of nationalisms. Jenkins demonstrates, through a survey of French history, that the articulation of the idea of nationhood has been profoundly different in the ideologies of left and right, reflecting rival class perspectives on the nature and purposes of the political community; and the picture has become more complicated as the class structures of society have evolved. In addition, the character of nationalism since 1945 has been profoundly conditioned by the bloc structure of the postwar settlement. Neither a theoretical treatise nor a comprehensive history of postrevolutionary France, this is rather a multidisciplinary intellectual synthesis of the development of the idea of "nation" in the light of 200 years of French history.
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