Selling and consuming the nation: understanding consumer nationalism

2016-12-15T09:48:21Z (GMT) by Enric Castello Sabina Mihelj
In recent years, nations have regained prominence as central symbols of political unity and mobilization, and proved capable of serving political goals across the political spectrum. Yet, the current revival of the national extends well beyond the realm of politics; it is anchored in the logic of global capitalism, and has become inextricably intertwined with the practices of promotion and consumption. Our article seeks to map the interface between nationalism and economic life, and bring some clarity to the so far fragmented debate on the topic, which developed under diverse headings such as “economic nationalism”, “nation branding”, “consumer ethnocentrism” and “commercial nationalism”. We focus more closely on developing the concept of consumer nationalism, which received little sustained attention in cultural studies and in social sciences and humanities more generally. We offer a definition of consumer nationalism, situate it vis-à-vis the broader phenomena of economic nationalism and political consumerism, and propose an analytical distinction between political consumer nationalism and symbolic consumer nationalism. Drawing on existing literature we then consider a range of examples and examine how these two forms of consumer nationalism become involved in the reproduction of nationalism, taking into account both consciously nationalist discourses and practices as well as the more banal, everyday forms of nationalism.