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Inventing the Ties That BindImagined Relationships in Moral and Political Life$
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Francesca Polletta

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9780226734170

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: May 2021

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226734347.001.0001

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The Uneasy Balm of Communication

The Uneasy Balm of Communication

(p.167) Chapter Seven The Uneasy Balm of Communication
Inventing the Ties That Bind

Francesca Polletta

University of Chicago Press

Scholars have criticized both ethnic and civic conceptions of national belonging. Ethnic nationalism claims a shared past of quasi-kinship that, critics say, renders it hostile to newcomers. But civic nationalism, claiming a shared commitment to liberal norms and institutions, lacks the moral force of imagined bonds. This chapter draws on the arguments developed in previous chapters in conjunction with experimental work to show that people can imagine what binds them as a nation in terms of still other relationships. These include relationships in which the boundary between us and them is not especially charged, and such relationships, in turn, lead people to endorse policies advancing an inclusive national solidarity and one that does not assume antagonism with other nations. Then the chapter explores the implications of the book’s main arguments for understanding culture and solidarity. Paying attention to the relationship schemas people draw on in their everyday lives can shed light on culture’s simultaneously creative and constraining character. People solve standard challenges of cooperation by using familiar relationships as practical metaphors, but they do so in conventional ways. Rethinking the schema of egalitarian intimacy that animates contemporary civic projects, for its part, opens up possibilities for building solidarity across difference.

Keywords:   nationalism, civic and ethnic nationalism, imagined community, egalitarian intimacy, political metaphor, sociology of culture, solidarity

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