The book Rethinking Nationalism. A Critical Introduction is the third book to be published by Palgrave Macmillan. Hearn is credited with bringing new ideas and revelations to the concept of nationalism. He organized his book by linking the chapters in pairs while also alternating both his analysis of the existing literature and his personal contributions to the topic of nationalism in order to make the topic easy for the readers. He also referred to a number of other books while elaborating on his general themes, which makes his arguments to be well-informed. What makes his work unique is his use of anthropological insights unlike the techniques used by earlier contributors who had basically based their work on their knowledge of social constructivism and social theory.

Hearn began his book by giving his views on the primordialism and modernism, which he treated as key concepts in his discussion of the nationalism theory. He criticizes the approaches that had been used by the primordialists arguing that they had made unnecessarily assumptions on the psychological aspects and had also failed to give enough attention to nationalism as a useful ideology in the modern politics. He, therefore, concludes that modernists had failed to understand the concept of modernity themselves.

Hearn argues that contrary to their depiction of modernity as a simple temporary social development phase, modernity entails a number of non-coherent aspects that may not unite to form a distinct historical stage. According to Hearn, understanding the history of nationalism in itself may not guarantee the understanding of the concept. He asserts that in contrary, the concept needs a broader understanding of other related concepts and went ahead to identify two of such concepts as that of power and culture.

Hearn brings his original work in the chapter on the culture and that on power. In the two chapters, Hearn concentrated on the elaborating on primordialism and modernism. He argued that it is until one understands well the concepts of power and culture that he/she can comprehend the concept of nationalism. Hearn’s approach enabled him to apply his knowledge on anthropology, urban studies, and gender-related issues.

Notable of Hearn’s contributions is that on the concept of the city and the role that it plays in nationalism. Hearn identifies the urban civil society and the economic support as the major mechanisms through which different cities contribute to the process of nationalism. According to him, the civil society in the urban areas makes it possible for people to express their dissatisfaction with various actions that are against the spirit of nationhood. He argues that the societies provide the social networks through which different ideologies are communicated, which are in themselves the forms of nationalism. Hearn observes that the cities’ economic role is seen both directly through different economic activities and by providing a place where the economic decisions of the nation can take place. He further argued that because of such a potential by the cities, uneven development is normally seen as a result, which is, in turn, linked to the classical national theory.

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Hearn’s concept of power enables him to elaborate on the kind of connection that exists between globalization, social capital, modernization, and economics. He underlines the importance of understanding the concept of nationalism through the effect of power in various kinds of social organizations. He notes that the concern of those who want to understand nationalism should be first to comprehend political culture, which he defines as the pursuit of power that normally characterizes the social organizations.

Though Hearn is right in trying to go past primordialism and modernism, he sees primordialism as a broader concept that should not be analyzed as a unit. However, by his explanation that nationalism is basically dealing with the way in which the social power operates and is being pursued, he seemed to be suggesting the possibility of primordialist stance. Analysis of his work can reveal that Hearn is suggesting that men have inbuilt drive to accumulate more power for their own benefit and/or the benefit of the group(s) to which they belong. This is what in most, according to him, results in the nationalism.

In the conclusion of his book, Hearn gives 10 major ideas that can help to identify the areas that require future research. He notes that fresh inquiry is mandatory if the knowledge on nationalism is to grow. His indication of the need for additional research is also implied in his declaration that this book is simply his own point of view. He notes that his work does not present a theoretical approach and should therefore not be taken as a modest. He further argues that his work had helped to establish the existing links between such concepts as power and culture, which can be helpful to the students studying nationalism, especially in their carrying out of further research.


In conclusion, it is evidenced that Hearn’s book Rethinking Nationalism. A Critical Introduction goes beyond introducing the learners to the concept of nationalism. It is particularly useful in understanding how new concepts such as power and culture are intertwined with the concept of nationalism. However, because of its complexity, the book has been argued to be more useful for the students who are in their advanced stages of learning like those taking their masters degrees. It may not be very useful to those at their high school and college levels of education. 

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