Perceptions of the nation : a sociological perspective on the case of Croatia
This thesis examines the processes of social change that characterise the /re/formation of the nation. It argues that such processes can only be identified through the examination of the interplay between social structure, culture and agency in a specific period of time. Through the exploration of the basic assumptions of Social Realist Theory, a methodological framework is constructed for the analysis of the morphogenesis of the nation. The basic assumptions of the developed framework are tested on the case of Croatia. A historical analysis explores the processes of structural change and the formation and competition of corporate agents from the beginning of the nineteenth until the end of the twentieth century. The processes of cultural change that occurred in the same period of time are investigated through a content analysis of the writings of the dominant Croatian nationalist ideologists, which identifies the ways in which the nation in general and the Croatian nation in particular were defined. The interaction between social structure and culture in the process of nation /re/formation is explored through a content analysis of secondary school history textbooks. This analysis looks at the ways dominant ideas of nations and nationalism were incorporated into the education system from the 1880s until the 1990s and, through the medium of textbooks, were designed to influence the attitudes of primary agents. In order to investigate the interplay between structure and culture, on the one side, and primary agents, on the other, a survey was undertaken in early 2000 on a sample of the population of Zagreb. It examined the ways these agents perceive the nation in general, the Croatian nation in particular, national symbols and national enemies. These analyses show that the issues of defining the nation and explaining the process of its formation are necessarily inter-linked. The study concludes that the nation emerges with the emergence of social processes - the formation of political community, the politicisation (nationalisation) of culture, the mobilisation of a population around specific nationalist ideologies, and the population's acceptance of certain aspects of these ideologies.