Distinguishing solidarity from identity in studies of nationhood: An alternative to the civic–ethnic dichotomy?

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This article argues for an analytic distinction between questions of collective identity and questions of solidarity in studies of nationhood. Whereas the former inquiry centres on group classifications and commonalities, the latter examines cooperation and patterns of interaction among group members. Although theoretical discussion of national solidarity is sparse, three central approaches in the field can be highlighted: understanding solidarity as a byproduct of identity, as a relationship between strangers and as an extension of sociability. The distinction between solidarity and identity bears on the much-disputed dichotomy between ethnic and civic nationalism. Civic nationalism has been widely criticized for failing to account for group boundaries and shared culture. Yet its emphasis on patterns of interaction and cooperation should not be neglected either. Instead of addressing the civic–ethnic dichotomy as two types of national identity, one could benefit from differentiating between epistemological questions about (ethnic-national) identity and those about (civic-national) solidarity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)760-776
Number of pages17
JournalNations and Nationalism
Issue number3
Early online dateNov 2021
StatePublished - Jul 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 Association for the Study of Ethnicity and Nationalism and John Wiley & Sons Ltd.


  • civic nationalism
  • ethnic–civic
  • national identity
  • sociabillity
  • solidarity


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