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Ernest Gellner Ernest Gellner is widely seen as one of the most important theorists in the study of nationalism. Gellner was introduced to nationalism and identity politics during his youth. As a Jewish Czech, Gellner was forced to leave his home in 1939, fleeing Prague for England in the wake of Hitler’s takeover of Czechoslovakia. Upon his return to Prague after the war, he found a much changed city that had lost most of its multiculturalism. Not feeling at home, Gellner went back to England to pursue an academic career. From his experience as an ‘outsider’, he develops his first thoughts on identity politics and nationalism. For Gellner, nationalism is the imposition of a high culture on society replacing local, low cultures and…show more content…
Yet, there is an argument to be made that the structure of Chinese society remains largely familial and rural. As well, the increasing income gap between the average Chinese citizen and members of the elite class has led some to question whether Chinese society is returning to a pseudo-feudalistic structure. Thus, despite Gellner’s belief that the social makeup of an agrarian society is incompatible with an industrial society, is it possible that China manages to successfully incorporate elements of both? Summary: This is Gellner's classic modernization argument explaining the origin of nations. The author argues that nations are completely modern constructions borne of nationalism which is "primarily a political principle, which holds that the political and national unit should be congruent" (1). Nations were the result of pressures created by the demands of the industrial revolution. As soon as people from widely different backgrounds began to converge on cities, it was necessary to create some form of common identity for them. Perhaps more importantly, the demands of capitalism, specifically the need for constant retraining, demanded that there be a common language among workers. These demands were met by creating a common past, common culture (created by turning "low" folk cultures into "high" state cultures) and requiring a common language. With these common
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