Nationalsymbolik i Europa: En komparativ analyse af nationalsymbolikkens betydning i Frankrig, Danmark og Tyskland

Maria Fossdahl Prehn

Student thesis: Master thesis


We live in a world of nations and states – most often these two factors are combined into a nation-state. National symbols are essential factors to distinguish one nation-state from the other as they provide a way of communicating the national uniqueness of the individual state. This Masters thesis seeks to uncover the role of national symbols in three European nation-states and put these into a current European perspective. In other words I seek to uncover the impact of the rise of the European Union’s influence and how this affects the nation-states view on their national symbols. With this point of view I will discuss the national symbols as a factor in relation to the post-modern nationalism that Europe is currently experiencing. I choose to focus this thesis around the national symbols of three nation-states; France, Denmark and Germany. As a Dane I have every prerequisite for understanding this view on the Danish national symbols and how this position has developed through the decades until today, hence my reasons for including Denmark in the thesis. France and Germany are two of the founding states of what is known today as the European Union. They share a sometimes-intertwined history of national grandeur and equally great setbacks. Their turbulent but different history, as well as their current political and economical influence in the international society, make them, in my eyes, the most interesting states to look into in this thesis. National symbols became important with the rise of the nation-state. Nationalism came to play an essential role in the national awakening of Europe and this factor is still alive in the globalized world where diversity and opposition are key components when living in a multicultural society. National symbols are an identical part of a nation-state. The period around the French Revolution was the time when the individual citizen became the centre for the state’s exercise of power – where the people in a certain state became aware of themselves as a nation. But the definition of national identity differs from state to state because of diverse historical backgrounds. France as a nation-state has been constructed in the modern time, and rejects the France that existed before 1789. In opposition, both the history of Denmark and Germany support the development of a national identity prior to the 19th century. However, when taking a closer look at the national symbols that all three nation-states have in common such as the national flag, national day and the national anthem, the Danes and the Germans have different perspectives on the symbols as German identity have taken a new form post World War II. Whereas the Danes have developed a strong national identity since the Middle Ages without big internal struggles, the consequences of the extreme nationalism in Germany have steered the nation-state into a new political role in the globalized era. With these different identical backgrounds in mind, the role of the national symbols in a post-modern Europe is being challenged, and the question is if the EU-symbols can affect the position of their national counterparts? The European integration poses a challenge for the internal dynamic of the nation-state. Recent European statistics show the view of the three countries towards the EU and its symbols. The general opinion of the EU as “a good thing” is also opposed by the preference for one’s own nationality in favour of defining yourself as being simply European. Both the scepticism and the optimism of the three nation-states reflect the strength of their individual national identity and provide an image of the importance of symbolism and the lack of EU’s cultural appeal. The conclusion of this thesis is that national symbols still play a significant identical role for each nation-state, even more so in the globalized world, as the European nations have become much more aware of their cultural differences and unique identities when they are “united in diversity”.

EducationsMA in International Business Communication (Intercultural Marketing), (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2012
Number of pages80