banal nationalism

What does Michael Billig mean by the concept of “banal nationalism”? Describe the various ways that media and news accounts ‘flag’ national identity on a daily basis.

The debate on patriotism and nationalism has been raging with mixed reactions from different scholars, politicians and members of the public. Distinguishing the two concepts has been challenging due to the thin line that separates them Patriotism emphasizes love for a state and its political structure while nationalism focuses on nation’s identity in respect of the rest of the world. It is worth to note that banal nationalism is a new concept advanced by Billig (Billig, 1995). Banal nationalism is the widespread spirit of togetherness in the context of cultural and political identity of people belonging to one country. This concept has particularly been emphasized through specific terms like “us”, “the”, “them” referring to people of same linguistic background with shared political ideology. Banal nationalism brainwashes citizens to believe every political action is in the interest of the public-protecting their socio-economic and political welfare. The term has been used by developed nations and historical political events that include US invasion of Iraq to defend Kuwait portray the spirit of banal nationalism.

The media has been at the forefront of promoting “Flag” nation identity through its daily portrayal of different nation’s identity and spirit of unity by using common terms as “The people of…”, “The president” in various events that include global sports, movies, trade fairs and exhibitions (Billig, 1995). Besides, classification of news as “domestic” versus “international” promotes the national identity “Flag”. It is therefore worth to assert that the Billig’s concept of banal nationalism is a contemporary reality and significantly consistent with the globalization, media and geopolitics.

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