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nationalism

Quote of the week: Jean-Claude Juncker

Sina Odugbemi's picture

“Forgetting the importance of national landscapes, cultures, national behaviours, reactions and reflexes is a big, big mistake. I am against nationalists, but I am very much in favour of patriots.”  

Jean-Claude Juncker - The President of the European Commission.

Quoted in Financial Times print edition March 25, 2017 "Lunch with the FT" by Lionel Barber.
 

What do aid agencies need to do to get serious on changing social norms?

Duncan Green's picture

Earlier this week I spent a day with Oxfam’s biggest cheeses, discussing how we should react to the rising tide of nationalism and populism (if you think that’s a Northern concern, take a look at what is going on in India or the Philippines). One of the themes that emerged in the discussions was how to engage with social norms – the deeply held beliefs of what is natural, normal and acceptable that underpin a lot of human behaviour, including how people treat each other and how they vote.

It’s pretty common to hear progressive types (in which category I include Oxfam) worry that while they have been busy having geeky conversations on the evidence on this or that intervention/project, or the case for this or that policy change, they have ignored the tide of disillusionment with politics-as-usual that underpins the rise of populism. We need to engage the public in a wider conversation aimed at encouraging progressive norms, or opposing exclusionary ones.

Fair enough, but what struck me is just how much would need to change for that to become reality. What would a ‘guide to shifting norms’ cover? Here are a few thoughts; please add your own.

Analysis

There doesn’t seem to be much evidence on how to change norms. Eg what lies behind the increasing acceptance of the rights of people with disabilities? Or the age at which we deem chlldhood to end? Or even why dog owners routinely pick up their pooches’ pooh in my local park, something that was unimaginable a generation ago? How do deliberate attempts at change interact with the forces of demographic, technological or cultural change that also help drive norm shifts? This is one area where we really do need more research, both historical and current.
 

Which is a Threat to Your Mental Health, Nationalism or Patriotism?

Sina Odugbemi's picture

Current tensions in different regions of the world have re-introduced old political concepts to dinner table, water cooler, or coffee break conversations, often with vaporous imprecision. I refer to nationalism and patriotism.  Which one is a good thing? Is nationalism dangerous while patriotism is good?

For instance, I was reading a column by Philip Stephens of the Financial Times only last week (See ‘The perils of Asia’s nationalist power game’) and he wrote this:

What’s wrong with nationalism, a friend in Tokyo asked me the other day? Well, there is much to be said for patriotism. As for nationalism, the answer is found in the bloody pages of European history.

That got me thinking: is it the case that nationalism is bad and patriotism is good?