Dynamics of Patriotism
30 Pages Posted: 13 Aug 2009 Last revised: 7 Sep 2009
Date Written: 2009
Patriotism, as attachment to country, is the value on which most foreign policy attitudes ultimately hinge, yet very little in the academic literature addresses the implications of the way in which the foundations for this attachment are conceived. Two variants of patriotism can be identified: one absolute, the other contingent. For those holding the latter conception, patriotism must be justified by one’s country’s actions: the greater the approval of one’s country’s policies, the greater the degree of patriotic attachment that is warranted. For those holding the former conception, patriotism is an absolute and a constant value, and it is reflected in support for one’s country/government when the going gets tough, not in qualifying one’s attachment to country by its performance and behavior.
We seek to understand the circumstances that determine how critical or uncritical a patriot a person would be, given both specific conditions related to the individual and the international situation more generally. Moreover, we are interested in accounting for overall levels of patriotism. We use survey data from the PEW, as well as experimental data, to examine these matters. We find that factors internal to the individual, and not external conditions, determine the kind of patriot one is and the level of self-reported patriotism.
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