Digital nationalism: understanding the role of digital media in the rise of ‘new’ nationalism
journal contributionposted on 12.01.2021, 10:01 by Sabina Mihelj, César Jiménez-Martínez
While digital technologies were initially seen as harbingers of globalisation and cosmopolitanism, scholars increasingly acknowledge their role in the rise of nationalism and right-wing populism. Yet, this surge of interest leaves at least two important questions unanswered. Where was nationalism before its apparent resurgence? Are contemporary forms of nationalism different from their predecessors, and can these changes be linked to digital technologies? To answer these questions, we argue for the importance of understanding the less visible ways in which digital technologies reproduce our sense of belonging to a world of nations. We discuss three such mechanisms: the architecture of internet domains, the bias of algorithms, and the formation of national digital ecosystems. Next, we examine three characteristics of contemporary nationalism that can be partly linked to recent shifts in the global communication ecology: diversification, fragmentation and commodification. We conclude by considering the implications of our arguments for future research in the field.
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