The Western European concept of nationalism—the supposition that a unique group of people (a self-identified “nation”) possesses the right to sovereign, independent political existence (a state and government of its own)—was rooted in two forms of group consciousness. One constituted identities originating in the traditional, increasingly secularized monarchical states that were modified by the rationalistic principles of science, the Enlightenment, and liberalism. It was state and civic oriented and emphasized the militant support of the state’s collective citizenry and the sanctity of the state’s territorial sovereignty. The other form sprang from the late eighteenth- and nineteenth-century Romantic Movement, which rejected the predominance in Western European realities of rationalism rooted in Renaissance, scientific, and Enlightenment traditions. Instead, it emphasized identities based on irrational and emotional ethnic and religious factors. For the Romantics, human group identity fundamentally was a function of the group’s unique culture and history within a specific territory rather than of generic scientific, political, social, or economic development. The Western form of national group identity that found initial acceptance among the Balkan populations was the Romantic.
KeywordsGroup Consciousness Urban Middle Class Secular Education Orthodox Church Balkan Population
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