Liberal nationalism, immigration, and the problem of multiple national identities

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Critics and defenders of liberal nationalism often debate whether the nation-state is able to accommodate cultural and political pluralism, as it necessarily aspires for congruence between state and nation. In this article, I argue that both sides of the debate have neglected a second homogenising assumption of nationalism. Even if it is possible for the nation-building state to accommodate multiple political and cultural communities, it is not obvious that is possible or desirable for it to accommodate individuals belonging to more than one nation. With the rise of international migration, and the growing number of multinational individuals, this flaw is a serious one. I advance an internal critique of liberal nationalism to demonstrate that, from within its own logic, this theory must either reject multiple national identities, or accommodate them at the cost of the normative justifications of nationalism it provides. By analysing David Miller’s influential analysis of national identity in divided societies, I demonstrate how this framework is unable to support an accepting attitude towards multiple national identities. Abbreviation: EU = European Union; PM = Prime Minister; MP = Member of Parliament.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)495-517
Number of pages23
JournalCritical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy
Issue number4
StatePublished - 6 Jun 2020
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018, © 2018 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.


  • Liberal nationalism
  • immigration
  • loyalty
  • national identity
  • transnationalism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Philosophy
  • Sociology and Political Science


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