Nationalism, National Identity, National Feeling: The Sociological and Socio-Psychological Approach

Graduate Program (& Advanced Certificate) Status

Course Level: 
Course Open to: 
Students on-site
Academic Year: 
US Credits: 
ECTS Credits: 
Course Code: 
Course Description: 

This course provides an intensive examination of the processes involved in constructing and reconstructing (national) identity and alterity, exploring (ethnic) ingroups and outgroups, along with the related social and symbolic boundaries.


Starting with an exploration of approaches focused on nationalism in everyday life, the course delves into sociological and social psychological perspectives on individual and 'collective' identity. It critically reflects on the considerations necessary when dealing with "identity" in empirical research, emphasizing the avoidance of essentialism and the significance of social-historical contextualization (e.g., post-colonial identities). Drawing on these insights the course further investigates the role of emotions in processes of identification and have a look at the complex interplay between emotions, identity, and power dynamics in social and political contexts.


In addition, the course examines the interconnection of Gender and Nationalism, leading into the second part that focuses on ingroup-outgroup differentiations. Drawing from sociological classics on “the established”, “the outsiders”, and “the stranger”, the course explores processes of stigmatization, majority-minority relations, and addresses prominent approaches to analyzing symbolic and social boundaries.


Throughout the course, theoretical discussions will be supplemented with examinations of empirical studies, highlighting key findings and respective methodological approaches, and students will have the opportunity to discuss their research interests, including various research designs, within the scope of the class. The course aims to equip students with a comprehensive (theoretical) understanding of nationalism, (national) identity, and national feeling while fostering critical thinking and research skills.


Learning Outcomes: 

After having completed the course students will:

-  have an overview of the most frequently discussed sociological and social-psychological theories of identity, especially of national and ethnic identity, and be able to critically engage and discuss competing theories on identity and collective identification;

-  understand the process of construction of ingroups and outgroups, of (ethnic or national) majorities and minorities; as well as the affective dimension of these processes;

-  understand the role of prejudice and stigmatization within the process of group construction;

-  understand the interplay of collective self-identification and categorisation by others as well as the role of power in this process.

-  understand the processes and effects of symbolic boundary making.

-  have an overview of empirical studies on everyday nationalism, national identity, and national feeling as well as a range of methods used in the sociological investigation of these topics.

-  be able to choose an appropriate method with regard to their own research interests.




Course evaluation


Class participation and activity: 20%

In-class presentation:                 30%

Final paper:                                50%