Wednesday, April 20, 2011

National Identity replacing Religious Identity as a way of forming "Imagined communities"

This link will take you to the ABC Drum where there is an audio interview with Scott Stephens. Mr Stephens is the Online Editor of Religion and Ethics for the ABC. In this interview, at about 11:10 Scott Stephens mentions that only stupid people would not acknowledge the important role of religion in 'binding people together or creating associations".

Perhaps in the past.

Baldwin, et al, Recognize the decline in organised religion in western societies and that westerns tend to create their "imagined communities' around ideas of National identity instead (2004, "introducing cultural studies" Pearson Education Limitied. pp157-158, 167, 289)

At this point I should mention that in sociology, a nation is an imagined community because the members if this community will never meet most of their fellow members, nor will they visit every historically, culturally or geographically significant place. But neither the less, members of this national community find a sense of identity and belonging to each other and these places. "It is only in the imagination that collectivities of this scale can exist" (Baldwin, et al, 2004, p158)   

But it's not like this new 'national identity' isn't without it's issues. It's built just as much upon exclusion as any other imagined community, including religions. But they are territoriality based exclusions. And the idea of national comradeship glosses over any inequalities experienced by the peoples of that nation. And in effect this lessens the social awareness of the plights of marginal groups. But this idea of mateship between Aussies seems to fit more snuggly in with the Australian world-view, than 'Christian based values'. 

Christians might think that the string of tragic world and local events in the past few months will drive more people to church in search of answers this Easter. And maybe so. But I argue that the "binding together of people" and the practice of symbolic rituals will happen down at the Pub, over a game of two-up on Anzac day


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