The Creation of Modern Denmark: A Figurational Analysis

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This paper takes its point of departure from an observation made by Norbert Elias in his book The Germans. Many (smaller) European states were confronted by Germany in various wars and conflicts and states such as Denmark suffered defeats. Following from this, Elias poses the question as to how the Danish people came to terms with this reality-shock. This paper claims that the unintended consequence of the Danish defeat was the development of a new national habitus with a strong and particular form of nationalism. This nationalism not only tied the nation to the state but went much further by defining the nation as the people and the civil society. It became a deeply sedimented form of nationalism, which provided Denmark with a very strong social cohesion. The central argument concerns this strong Danish habitus linked to this form of nationalism. This paper argues that this habitus has become more problematic during the last 30 years in the era of globalisation. The strong Danish habitus generates resistance towards immigration, acceptance of refugees, the EU, and the internationalisation of education – just to mention some problematic areas. Consequently, Denmark, as a small open economy depending on multilateralism and internationalisation, has difficulties fully embracing globalisation.
Original languageEnglish
JournalHistorical Social Research
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)182-206
Number of pages25
Publication statusPublished - 2020

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