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The building of nations in Habsburg Central Europe, 1740-1914

Decker, Philipp (2017) The building of nations in Habsburg Central Europe, 1740-1914. PhD thesis, The London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE).

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This study investigates the question as to why and to what extent nationalism and national movements emerged as critical factors determining the transformation of politics and society in late imperial Austria. Drawing on debates in nationalism studies, this research will consider the instrumentalist and political modernist schools in order to unveil the determinants of nationalist politics and political crisis during this period. In contrast to the dominant treatments of nationalism as either a product of elite agitation ‘from above’ or the consequence of growing national identity and political allegiance ‘from below’, the hypothesis is that state modernisation in itself has structurally determined the growing significance of the category of nationality. This has created the conditions for new forms of nationalism as an ideology, as politics, and as a movement. This research applies process tracing with a focus on Austrian modernisation between 1740 and 1914. Divided into five period chapters, the empirical examination will seek to explain how particular patterns of political modernisation determined the development of nationalism in the Habsburg monarchy. It argues that state policies, province-based intellectuals, and cultural institutions are critical for explaining the building of nations in Habsburg Central Europe. Finally, the empirical results and theoretical implications emerging from the research will be summarised: First, regime transformations and state policies are critical for shaping the discursive meaning of nationality, its role in politics, and its significance as a sentiment. Second, the research identifies two politico-ideological functions of nationalism that are critical for explaining the reshaping of politics during the nineteenth and early twentieth century: a statist and a populist function. This case study seeks to contribute to the scholarly discussion on the role of nationalism in modern politics by developing a conceptual and analytical framework to serve as the basis for future comparative research.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information: © 2017 Philipp Decker
Library of Congress subject classification: D History General and Old World > DB Austria
J Political Science > JA Political science (General)
Sets: Departments > Government
Supervisor: Breuilly, John

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