Neo-nationalist ideology : a discourse theoretical approach to the SNP and the CSU
Sutherland, Claire Nicole
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The concept of ideology's theory-building potential has been under-exploited in studies of contemporary nationalism. This study offers a novel approach to 'neo-nationalism' by defining it as an ideology, embedding it in a theory of discourse, and extending this framework to a methodology based on text analysis. Qualitative deconstruction of texts using the tools of literary theory is one of the research methods used, complemented by evidence from elite interviews and a survey of primary sources. In order to illustrate how neo-nationalism is discursively constructed, the core of the ideology is distinguished from its periphery. Furthermore, parties are characterised as ideologues in contemporary society and placed within the postmodern framework of discourse theory. Case studies of the Scottish National Party and the Christlich-Soziale Union in Bavaria examine their interpretations of nationalist ideology through analysis of the rhetoric used in recent election campaigns. The parties are of particular interest because they attempt to reconcile core nationalist goals with contemporary political issues, such as that of integration within the European Union. The SNP is an example of a neo-nationalist party in that it pursues its core, immutable goal of prioritising the nation by promoting Scottish autonomy within a larger European framework. The CSU, on the other hand, is neo-nationalist in that its policies and rhetorical appeals revolve around a national nodal point articulated in terms of the Heimat. It has sought to defend Bavarian autonomy by profiling itself as the archetypal Bavarian party with an important role to play in both the German and European political arenas. The case studies demonstrate that a nationalist party's support for European integration may reinforce rather than undermine its core commitment to self-determination. Moreover, the ideological constructs developed by neo-nationalist parties can usefully be characterised in terms of discourse theory. Both the CSU and the SNP seek to 'de-contest' their interpretations of the nation and achieve conceptual hegemony by establishing their ideology as 'common sense'. Post-modem theory thus not only provides the epistemological grounding of the study, but also paves the way for a methodological approach designed to analyse neo-nationalism in its specificity.