Liberal opinion often views nationalism as a distasteful and reactionary concept. But what does it mean to be a nationalist? This article seeks to investigate what selected newspapers in the UK mean when they label a political party or an individual as nationalist. An initial content analysis demonstrates that journalists use the label to cover a variety of movements and individuals with disparate political and cultural goals. Making use of the banal nationalism concept and the idea of strategy in discourse analysis, it is suggested here that these disparate groups are brought together under the banner of nationalist to convey a sense of otherness, in contrast to the natural, timeless world of nation states which the journalists and readers inhabit. Time and space considerations require reporters to use forms of journalism shorthand when reporting on complex situations but it is argued here that the use of the label nationalist does little to enhance understanding of these complex stories. Furthermore, it is argued that, in a UK context, the exclusion by newspapers of those who support the continuation of the current British state from being categorized as nationalist is useful for those who are campaigning against local independence movements.
- Banal nationalism
- critical discourse analysis