BORIS Theses

BORIS Theses
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The Social Integration Framework and National Identity: Relative Deprivation, Social Trust and Pandemic Threat

Wamsler, Steffen (2022). The Social Integration Framework and National Identity: Relative Deprivation, Social Trust and Pandemic Threat. (Thesis). Universität Bern, Bern

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National identity constitutes a central feature of group attachment and belonging in modern societies. At the same time, contemporary democratic states derive a substantial part of their legitimacy from a sense of togetherness among their populace. In the present thesis, I seek to unravel how different challenges to this notion of a shared identity relate to the latter. Paper 1 draws on the Behavioral Immune System hypothesis and Affective Intelligence Theory to provide a multidisciplinary framework for understanding how pandemic threat in the case of Covid-19 is linked to national boundary-making. Drawing on original survey data from six European democracies, I find that citizens with higher exposure to pandemic threat are more likely to hold exclusionary, ethnic-based views on who is part of their nation. This finding holds for both micro-level and macro-level threat. Moreover, mediation analysis shows that this relationship is driven by the emotion of anger, whereas fear only plays an inferior role for pandemic threat and national identity. Paper 2 looks at how perceptions of unfair group-based disadvantage (subjective relative deprivation) may predict levels of nationalism and constructive patriotism, respectively. Employing social identity theory on how people cope with status inferiority, I hypothesize that those perceiving their in-group as relatively deprived should portray higher levels of nationalism, whereas the reverse should be the case for constructive patriotism. Using the same original survey data as in Paper 1 shows robust support for both hypotheses. Paper 3 takes a more thorough look at national identity and social trust compared to previous studies. In accordance with the theoretical model, I find that ethnic conceptions of nationhood are related to higher identity-based trust, whereas the reverse holds for trust in strangers. Particularized trust, however, yields a slightly negative relationship with more ethnic conceptions of nationhood. Further, a moderation analysis with national-level conceptions shows a substantive interaction effect for particularized trust and trust in strangers. Taken together, the present thesis contributes to scholarly literature in five meaningful ways. First, I introduce social integration as a useful conceptual and analytical lens for understanding challenges to national identity and their consequences for both definitions of the in-group and its relationship with relevant out-groups. Second, the three articles provide important insights to expand on previous studies. Third, these empirical findings are accompanied by thorough theoretical reasoning in the cases of pandemic threat, group-based relative deprivation, and social trust. Fourth, I suggest a novel, continuous measurement approach for conceptions of nationhood that addresses several shortcomings in extant literature. Finally, I provide an extensive elaboration on the concept of national identity to integrate several strands of literature.

Item Type: Thesis
Dissertation Type: Cumulative
Date of Defense: 25 August 2022
Subjects: 300 Social sciences, sociology & anthropology
300 Social sciences, sociology & anthropology > 320 Political science
Institute / Center: 03 Faculty of Business, Economics and Social Sciences > Social Sciences > Institute of Political Science
Depositing User: Sarah Stalder
Date Deposited: 22 Dec 2022 15:41
Last Modified: 30 Dec 2022 00:42

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