The Lens of National Identity: Comparing the Structural Components of Muslim and Christian-Majority Countries
In the midst of revolutions, overthrown governments, civil wars, and large-scale migration, sociologists need to reassess the structural components of national identity. Previous research has analyzed internal dynamics of a few countries or differences between geographical regions or methods of state formation that rarely included Muslim countries in their cross-national comparisons. This paper takes a previously unaddressed approach by looking at nation-states' religious majority, comparing Muslim-majority and Christian-majority states with a large cross-national sample. My research aims to discover whether there are different sources of national identity in the two types of countries. Using multi-level models with both individual and country-level characteristics, I analyze a dichotomous measure of national pride - an indicator of shared connection to the people of the country and thus a measure of national identity - from 9 Muslim-majority and 32 Christian-majority countries in the two most recent waves of the World Values Survey (2000 and 2005). I find that while country-level heterogeneity of language, ethnicity, and religion do not seem to affect one's sense of national pride in either type of country, one's individual position within their country with respect to ethnic, religious, and language majority groups are each strong positive predictors of national pride in both types of countries. More importantly the effect of being in ethnic or religious majority groups has a significantly stronger effect in Muslim countries than in Christian countries. This multi-level cross-national approach comparing Muslim and Christian-majority countries challenges sociologists to further explore the structural meaning of this dichotomy and to pursue research including more Muslim countries.
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