References to history in national identity: interview and focus group data on historical comparisons

Nigbur, D. and Franz, A. (2011) References to history in national identity: interview and focus group data on historical comparisons. In: BPS Social Psychology Section Conference, September, Fitzwilliam College, University of Cambridge.

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Objectives: Our study sought to contribute to a social-psychological analysis of the role of national history as experienced and understood by nationals. This is intended to close a gap between social psychology and existing work from other disciplines: the latter tend to neglect individual experience, the former has been slow to take seriously the role of time and history in national identity.

Design: Focus group discussions were conducted to add to existing data from semi-structured interviews. Qualitative data analysis based on interpretative phenomenological analysis (IPA) was performed.

Methods: Participants talked about their subjective experience of national identity in five individual interviews and two focus groups. The latter were conducted in participants' native countries and in their first language, in order to promote a more natural conversation between compatriots. Data analysis was conducted with a view to examining references to history and temporality in these sense-making exercises.

Results: History is mobilised by nationals as a symbolic property of the nation; as a justification of national values and norms; and as a reference point for (positive or negative) comparisons with the present. The past can constitute a source of pride as well as an example of "how not to do it".

Conclusions: Both "good" and "bad" national history contribute to national identity in the present. The involvement of history in the individual experience of national identity is amenable to further qualitative and quantitative social-psychological analysis.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology > BF0076.5 Psychology research
Divisions: pre Nov-2014 > Faculty of Social and Applied Sciences > Applied Social Sciences
Depositing User: Users 142 not found.
Date Deposited: 20 Feb 2012 14:35
Last Modified: 11 Dec 2014 14:09

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Last edited: 29/06/2016 12:23:00