Psychosocial approach: Communication and social listening in polarised contexts
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Nationalism and patriotism

Nationalism and patriotism play significant roles in shaping individuals’ connections to their country. These concepts are often exploited by populist leaders to create a sense of unity and identity among their followers, while simultaneously marginalising those who do not share the same nationalistic or patriotic sentiments.

Identifying Nationalism:

  • It stems from the idea of a nation-state, which is governed through political power.
  • Nationalism employs distinctive symbols like flags, anthems, and patriotic imagery to distinguish members of a nation.
  • It fosters patriotism by instilling a sense of belonging and identification with the nation.
  • Nationalism encompasses elements such as language, traditions, cultures, and sometimes shared religion, contributing to national identity.
  • Unfortunately, nationalism can also give rise to feelings of superiority over citizens of other nations, leading to conflicts and wars.
  • It emphasises prioritising the national interest over individual interests.

Identifying Patriotism:

  • Patriotism involves feeling pride and loyalty towards one’s country.
  • It often attributes great sentimental and economic value to historical objects that symbolise the nation’s heritage.
  • Patriots tend to exalt national heroes and liberators, sometimes regarding them as the epitome of greatness.
  • However, extreme forms of patriotism can lead to racist attacks on those deemed unpatriotic.

Populist leaders exploit nationalism and patriotism to generate a sense of solidarity among their followers. They manipulate these concepts to create divisions, labelling those who do not align with their nationalistic or patriotic ideals as outsiders or misfits.

Furthermore, populist leaders utilise nationalism and patriotism to highlight perceived injustices and claim victimhood for their country. They may assert that their nation has been exploited by other nations or oppressed by a corrupt elite, provoking anger and resentment towards those believed to be responsible. Understanding the intricate dynamics of nationalism and patriotism is crucial in analysing the strategies employed by populist leaders.


Picture Victor Orban:, CC BY 4.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons

Nationalism and Patriotism
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