ANTH 1120 C
Nov, 23, 2018
Nation-State and Nationalism in Media
Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism is a book written by political scientist Benedict Anderson and it was published in 1983, this book mainly focuses on the rise of nationalism and the emergence of the modern nation-state. Anderson sees the nation as a social construct, an “imagined community” in which members feel commonality with others, even though they may not know them. One of the ways that an “imagined community” can be made is through the use of media, media can create an imagined community through targeting a mass audience or generalizing and addressing citizens as the public. One example of this, is the article that was released called “The Taylor Swift Effect” this article talks about the effects that a celebrity like Taylor Swift can have on voting. After analyzing this article it is evident that nation-state and nationalism is related to media through, Making people feel part of a group, helping their community as a whole and influencing the future of a community.
Anderson defines a nation as a socially constructed community, imagined by the people who perceive themselves as part of that group. Moreover, one of the main purposes of social media is finding people with similar opinions to one another, so they can feel closer to a community. On the other hand, celebrities on social media have their own community of fans, they all share the same interest of liking that celebrity and getting influenced heavily by what that celebrity say or does. This was evident in the article “The Taylor Swift Effect”, in this article the manager of ‘Vote.org’ goes on to explain how after Taylor Swift’s post on instagram the number of registered voters sky rocketed to 169000 which is 50000 more than the average in the last midterm election. This hints to the fact that Taylor Swift’s fans feel like they are a part of a community and they share similar interests, and since their favourite celebrity decided to vote on someone they will do the same. This is very similar to what Anderson was talking about in his book “Imagined Community”, people feel a commonality between each other which can affect their way of decision making.
Anderson discusses the fact that prints were a huge invention to this “Imagined Community” because Print-capitalism created mass readerships, brought the multiplicity of spoken dialects into a smaller number of print-languages, and spawned ordinary administrative languages that eventually replaced Latin, therefore, some argue that this helped the community becoming closer together. This is also evident in the article, in “The Taylor Swift Effect” it is being discussed that celebrities can have a major impact on today’s society based on what they say, do or have an opinion about, it not only talks about how many people voted because of Taylor Swift but it also brings back the time when Oprah supported Barack Obama back in 2008, and how that got him over 1 million extra votes. Furthermore, this helps the community to go out there and vote, even if their votes are being influenced by their favourite celebrity, it is a way of helping the nation and a clear definition of nationalism.
According to Anderson, creation of imagined communities became possible because of “print capitalism”. Capitalist entrepreneurs printed their books and media in the vernacular(instead of exclusive script languages, such as Latin) in order to maximize circulation. As a result, readers speaking various local languages became able to understand each other, and a common discourse emerged. This was very big to the future of every nation. People from all around the world in one country could finally connect with each other and built a bigger nation and community. Anderson argues that language is one of the key aspects of a great community and being able to communicate will bring people closer. On the other hand in the article, which is talking about Taylor Swift’s post it is evident that she is using the same language as everybody else in America, as do all the other celebrities because it helps them connect and influence their fans better, this is mostly thanks to the first form of media, Newspaper, book, and journals, which again were in the same language because of communicating with people, therefore, leading to a better future for the community.
In conclusion, after analyzing this article it is evident that nation-state and nationalism is related to media through, Making people feel part of a group, helping their community as a whole, and influencing the future of a community. Through social media people feel like they are part of a community, by having similar interests, social media could help the community by celebrities influencing their fans, and also help the future of a nation through the use of language. These were all seen in the article “The Taylor Swift Effect” where it talks about celebrities and how much they would could affect a community and nation.
“The Taylor Swift effect: Nashville sounds off on singer’s political endorsement” ” The Guardian (by Adam Gabbatt, October 12, 2018) https://www.theguardian.com/music/2018/oct/12/taylor-swift-democrats-midterm-election-celebrity-political-endorsements
Anderson, Benedict R. OG. Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism. Verso, 2016.