Featured weekly article: The Importance of Culture in Civic Nations: Culture and the Republic in France

The Importance of Culture in Civic Nations: Culture and the Republic in France

By Vincent Martigny

Volume 8, Issue 3, pages 543-559

Abstract

This article discusses Hans Kohn’s argument that civic nations pay little attention to cultural claims in their definition and practice of citizenship, by looking at the political system in France and its relation to culture. Contrary to Kohn’s analysis, culture has played – and still plays – a fundamental role in the definition and modus vivendi of the civic republic in France, through a form of cultural nationalism implemented by the state. It is also argued that the opposition between civic and ethno-cultural nations can be misguided. Indeed the French civic nation can be conceived of as ‘cultural’ while rejecting ethnicity in its definition of citizenship. This calls for the redefinition of Kohn’s dichotomy and mismatch between culture and ethnicity.

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