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Nations and Nationalism

3.82  ·  Rating details ·  1,079 Ratings  ·  39 Reviews
This thoughtful and penetrating book, addressed to political scientists, sociologists, historians, and anthropologists, interprets nationalism in terms of its social roots, which it locates in industrial social organization. Professor Gellner asserts here that a society's affluence and economic growth depend on innovation, occupational mobility, the effectiveness of the ma ...more
Paperback, 150 pages
Published October 31st 1983 by Cornell University Press (first published January 1st 1983)
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An alternative theory of nationalism which doesn't wholly rely on economic conditions (like Hobsbawm and the other Marxists) or on literacy like Anderson or Geertz. Instead he sort of relies on both.

Gellner views modern nationalism as the product of the Industrial Revolution. How is this the case? An industrialized state needs a large basis of people who can read and write in the same language and have a basic degree of technical literacy. This, in turn, requires an educational system to produc
Gellner gets quite a bit right about the invention of nationalism-- especially how the practices of high culture become masked as ancient and inviolable folk tradition-- but he also gets quite a bit wrong. Perhaps he's right about the creation of a specific type of nationalism, one that is predicated on an industrial or post-industrial society and expressed most strongly in Central and Western Europe, and he's playing fast and loose with his words, but there seem to be plenty of nationalist move ...more
Петър Стойков
Jan 19, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Купих си тази книга преди десетина години (издадена е в България през 1999г.). Макар че е тъничка и няма и двеста страници, почвах я няколко пъти и никога не стигах много навътре – оказа се, че не бях достатъчно умен, за да разбера какво пише в нея. Странно някак. Все пак, след известно (хехе) забавяне, успях да сдъвча невероятно концентрирания и сложен стил на писане на Ърнест Гелнър и да разбера как аджеба той вижда национализма и какво всъщност е това нация…

Не, нациите не започват с „родолюби
May 26, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: school-history
An interesting philosophical and anthropological analysis of nations and nationalism. Although this lacked the historical thinking that I find most engaging, it was interesting to look at the concept of nationalism through another lens. Gellner is structured- but I share many of the conceptual and explanatory criticisms this text has faced. This is probably a result of my historical approach.
Gellner's is one of those theories of nationalism that some call 'modernist,' meaning that he believes, like Benedict Anderson, that nations are less natural or ageless historical communities, than they are phenomenons emerging alongside or in reaction to modernity;
The reader having skimmed through Imagined Communities before approaching Gellner might have been left, as I was, disatisfied with Anderson's original but relatively narrow reading of modernity, and expect to find in Gellner's work a
Apr 08, 2015 rated it really liked it
In an era that is doctrinally anti-(explicit-)doctrine, people like to emphasize that grand theories, even the putatively best ones, have blinders, and that the otherwise orthodox are at their most interesting when they ramble off the plantation to make ad hoc observations. Well, they do, and sometimes they are, but the opposite is at least equally true, even in the case of the worst grand theories. Gellner is at his best and most interesting when he operates within the confines of a not even ex ...more
Oğuzhan Batur
Nov 18, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Milliyetçilik kuramları literatürünün baş yapıtlarından. Ufuk açıcı. Bilimsel. Ayrıca okumayı düşünenler için:
It's a great book to come up with nationalism. I suppose this book has comprehensive methods to express why nations must exist for modernity process. This book gets an only holistic view about nations and nationalism on this subject. I suggest reading Gellner's theory instead of Anderson and other post-structuralist academics. Of course, they share a common core on some points, but the book differs from other books on historical analysis and the sociological imagination.

I've read many books on '
Sep 13, 2011 rated it it was ok
My opinion of this book isn't related to its value as a seminal work in the field, but for the fact that such a well-known professor didn't have an editor who told him to stop using commas indiscriminately. My biggest pet peeve about many academic books is the total lack of writing skill and style from authors that takes away from the substance of their books, and this is a prime example. Now that I'm done with my rant, I can say that Gellner's work might seem outdated -- he ignores the Soviet U ...more
Feb 16, 2017 rated it really liked it
Read for Anthropolgy 391: Nation Building and Nationalism

This was a struggle to get through due to complex writing and a lot of references to historical events (I don't have a good handle on world history). But I came out the other side having learned something, and probably able to read the book again and get even more out of it.

Discussed are ideas like:
-The need for a shared experience through some form of mass media
-Folk culture as a precursor to nationalism
-The necessity of "forgetting" as a
One of about the four major texts on the "modernist" theory of nationalism. And two of the other three guys work off of him. Writing a paper on nationalism for one of my classes- God you find out what a small, idol-worshipping world academia is right quick in this field.
Jorge Andrade
Oct 07, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
En forma breve pero precisa, Gellner muestra la evolución política de la sociedad que ha permitido la gestación del concepto de nación y nacionalidad.
Jan 13, 2009 rated it it was ok
Shelves: unfinished
An important book on the theory of nationalism, but it's a dry read and leaves many questions unanswered.
Akshat Upadhyay
Feb 26, 2016 rated it really liked it
Solid concepts and a good introduction to the concept of nationalism.
Tol k měmu předsevzetí, že chci číst knihy, co opravdu chci :D
Jul 31, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Largely a waste of time. There are few original arguments here and many of Gellner’s core claims are overly simplistic; everything meaningful here could be encapsulated in the length of a journal article. He also declined to provide the reader footnotes – I counted something like 6 in total – for the reader to pursue further research (or to fact-check him!). Hobsbawm’s 1990 text is a much better introduction to nationalism, and contributes much more to the discussion.

Gellner makes several major
Jan 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: evergreeny
Stručný historický a sociologický esej s mnoha anekdotickými příklady; těžiště příkladů je v dějinách habsburské říše, ale zdaleka se neomezují jen na střední Evropu. Zajímavá fakta autor uvádí z celého světa.

Možná více než teoretický přínos jsem ocenil pohled na český dějinný národní narativ od autora, který se k Čechám hlásil a dobře je znal, přitom kořeny jeho rodiny (německy hovořící Židé) ho staví do určité míry mimo nejsilnější národní hnutí středoevropského prostoru té doby. Článek na blo
Thai Divone
Apr 10, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: sociology
It is not a bad book, and I can understand how it paved the way, but I don't think it stood well to the changing times. Also, the writing style is unfortunately is quite boring, which made the reading experience really-really hard.
Matthew Rohn
Nov 23, 2017 rated it really liked it
Good clear argument but really needs more sources
Oct 16, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 1900s, europe, non-fiction
Riley Haas
Dec 14, 2016 rated it liked it
Didn't write a review.
Mar 31, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This did much for reframing a lot of my thoughts and assumptions about education and intellectualism. I've drunk the kool-aid of industrialism, it would seem. According to Gellner, previous to industrialism, although there was not as much job specialization, the gap between each specialty was actually much larger. People would train their whole lives for one profession, and changing jobs was all but impossible. The customs and vocabulary of each specialty were much too involved and esoteric, und ...more
Kw Estes
Dec 18, 2010 rated it really liked it
A fine work on the historical origins of nationalism. Gellner credits the coming of the industrial age, and its concomitant need for cultural homogeneity (as people are forced more and more into becoming interchangeable and mobile cogs in the social machinery), for the rise of nationalism(s)--which he defines simply as the idea that political and cultural boundaries ought to be in line.

Gellner takes no hard stance on whether or not the rise of nationalism is a positive development. Indeed one ca
Jun 01, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Gellner develops a systematic theory of nationalism. The book is self-contained and relatively easy to read. Accessible even to newcomers to the topic as it starts by introducing the nationalist principle and the state. From this point onward, Gellner explores the social causes and pre-conditions to nationalism and its deep connections to culture and education. This analysis and its consequences and implications are the core of the book. I consider the book (especially chapters one to seven) as ...more
morning Os
Jan 10, 2008 rated it liked it
Shelves: poli-sci, reviewed
One of the "must-read"s in the field of identity studies in political science (the others include Benedict Anderson and Hobsbawm). Gellner's argument makes sense if you know that he had Eastern Europe in mind when he wrote this book. His definition of nationalism on page 1 is most frequently quoted. His argument is an excessive generalization (almost economic determinism) for diverse experiences of nation-building around the world, but Gellner most importantly established the core argument for t ...more
Mar 21, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
It is sometimes said that historiographers and historians are like a married couple that live together but have long since ceased to speak to each other. They live separate lives. This text reflects that divide. Like Hobsbawm before him, Gellner takes the traditional Eurocentric, pro-French Enlightenment view of the rise of nations, nation-states and nationalism. And like Hobsbawm's argument, it is flawed not just by its Eurocentrism, but by ignoring certain fundamental facts (e.g. the unique de ...more
Jun 27, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: extemp, debate
A fascinating (and seminal) construction of a theory of Nationalism and how it forms around some, but by no means all, cultures, and how it's part and parcel with the scaffolding of modern industrial societies. A good read, dense at times but light at others, and has very interesting ideas therein.
David Carrasquillo
Re-reading this from college to make an essay. This is really a classic that not enough people take seriously, at least in Puerto Rico. These arguments are essential to tackle the identity crisis of Puerto Rico and its politics all together.
Jan 25, 2008 rated it liked it
While there is a virtue in describing the relationship between nationalism and modernity, I remain unconvinced that there is a necessary correlation.
If you never have read Ernest Gellner you must. Irrespective of the accuracy of his particular interpretation of nationalism the book is an intellectual roller-coaster ride.
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Ernest Gellner was a prominent British-Czech philosopher, social anthropologist, and writer on nationalism.
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“It is nationalism which engenders nations, and not the other way round.” 18 likes
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