Expressions of nationhood : national symbols and ceremonies in contemporary Europe
The central themes of this thesis are to highlight the importance of national symbols and ceremonies in the formation of nations and national identities, and examine how they contribute to the expressions of nationhood. The research has been conducted by means of a systematic investigation of national symbols and ceremonies, analysed as an integral part of identity-making, maintenance and change. The focus is on the contemporary European nations, and conclusions have been drawn with regard to their symbolism and ceremonies. The overall study has been complemented by three case studies; of Britain, France, Norway, with Germany as an analytical counter-case. Throughout this thesis evidence will be provided to the effect that national symbols and ceremonies express deeper aspects and meanings of the nation, and function as integrative and/or divisive forces. Moreover, national symbols and ceremonies form a central part of a `secular' religion which provides anchorage in a dynamic world. National symbols and ceremonies also have an effect upon the community they represent; that is, they raise collective consciousness of `who we are' and `where we are from'. Finally, it has been argued that nations cannot be dated in a precise manner since they come into being by stages, marked by the adoption of national symbols, such as the national flag and the national day. These stages have been linked to three main symbolic regimes (termed `old', `modem' and `new') and understood as a function of national independence and continuity, the implication being that the whole process of nation building forms a complex that is constituted along a continuum of re-discovery and invention.