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National Attachment and Patriotism in a European Nation: A British Study

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This study explores identification with one's national group using two distinct but interrelated concepts: identity content and relational orientation. Theoretical distinctions were drawn between two forms of identity content: traditional-cultural and civic, and between two forms of relational orientation: blind and constructive. The multidimensionality of both identity content and relational orientation and the relationships amongst these components were examined in a British sample: positive relationships were hypothesized between blind orientation and traditional-cultural content and between constructive orientation and civic content. Principal components analyses confirmed the hypothesized factor structures, and the resulting scales were highly reliable. Relationships amongst the resulting factors were explored using regression analyses. The overall results indicate support for the orthogonality of both the two orientation dimensions and the two content dimensions. Moreover, the hypothesized relationships between forms of orientation and content were largely supported. In conclusion, this study highlights the importance of looking at the relationship between identity content and relational orientation. The implications of these observations for theory and research are discussed with reference to using categories to “group” participants in research, citizenship education, and more general attitudes towards social change.
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Keywords: Britain; Europe; attachment; nationalism; patriotism;  National identity

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Middlesex University 2: Social Psychology European Research Institute, University of Surrey

Publication date: February 1, 2005

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