National Identity

According to Stuart Hall second model for the production of identities, identities are ‘always incomplete [and] in a constant process of formation and alteration’. Take an identity of your choice – national, gender, occupation, regional or any other identity. How has that identity changed over time? What factors have shaped these changes?

In this essay I will look to examine how national identities have changed over time, with particular reference to nations within the European community. History, geography, religion and language all play a crucial part in how national identities are created and evolve through time, and I will look at these factors in turn to see the effect they have on national identity.
With the ‘Information Age’ and globalisation well and truly a part of every day twenty-first century living; the access to view information about different nations; the ability to share aspects about our cultures and national identities; plus the greatly increased ability to travel globally (both physically and via cyber-space), all gives us a greater level of openness and these factors have helped shape the changes in how national identities are portrayed.
The 17th century philosopher Descartes defined the identity of all human beings as ‘things that think’. He understood identity as relating solely to the human mind, and not the body or social interaction. This Cartesian concept of identity is similar to the Enlightenment concept that has no consideration for particular social/historical circumstances, nor does it acknowledge the impact of cultural differences upon identity. This concept has been important in the advocating universal human rights and universal suffrage, but is it met with challenges on several levels. Psychoanalysts argue that relationships with others and social interaction has a direct effect on the formation of personal identities, e.g. the relationship a child has with its parents.   It is also strongly argued that the body cannot be...