Culture as opposed to what? Cultural belonging in the context of national and european identity
European Journal of Social Theory, 5, (4), . (doi:10.1177/136843102760513839).
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The past twenty-five years have seen an explosion of interest in nationalism and nationality in the social sciences - the past ten also in cultural studies. These two disciplinary areas define their objects of study differently, but both have recently started to converge in the pervasive use of the term 'national identity', which in turn relies on the term 'cultural identity'. Although theoretical complications entailed by the use of 'identity' as a concept have been noted, the theorization of identity as culture has occurred almost by default, with the term 'culture' merely designating what needs to be explained, and the inherent circularity of 'cultural identity' as a category remaining unaddressed. The two approaches differ in their understanding of the crucial categories of 'culture' and 'politics' in their accounts of nation and national identity. Cultural studies accounts focus on politics in terms of cultural politics, and thus fail to take on board important aspects of the social science accounts which they take as standard reference points. Both approaches ultimately rely upon 'culture' as an all-inclusive category of social subjectivity, which remains undertheorized in both approaches, albeit in significantly contrasting ways. The place of culture in recent work on European identity functions differently, and provides a useful counterpoint to these difficulties.
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