Constructions of national identity and the nation: the case of New Zealand/Aotearoa

Taylor, Stephanie Joyce Ann (1997). Constructions of national identity and the nation: the case of New Zealand/Aotearoa. PhD thesis The Open University.



This thesis analyses discourses of national identity and the nation, using the case study of New Zealand. The main empirical data are 'ordinary talk', from 41 New Zealanders interviewed in London in late 1994 and early 1995. The thesis investigates the work which is done in participants' talk by constructions of national identity and the nation. The first major focus is how national identity is used in the construction of self-identity. The analysis includes different ways of understanding the 'self', the interpretative resources available for the construction of an identity as a New Zealander, including alternative categories and positive and negative stereotypes, and the way that speakers position themselves in relation to New Zealand and other New Zealanders. A second focus is how constructions of nation and the national do ideological work around contentious issues, that is, work which has implications for relationships of power and authority in a broad socio-economic context and which tends to silence and delegitimise certain voices and identities, especially by establishing and reinforcing certain practices and relationships as 'normal' and therefore invisible and/or uncontentious. Finally the thesis considers how such constructions accommodate changes which are frequently associated with globalization and a decline in the relevance of the nation state. These changes include the reduced state provision of services, resulting from the reduction or abandonment of 'welfare state' policies; challenges from new migrants and from an indigenous minority to the status of the dominant population group; and the opening of national borders to both investment and migration. The analysis shows the continuing salience and ideological relevance of national identity

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