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The importance of being Ernest: a Comment on Riga and Hall

Nations and Nationalism

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Ernest Gellner's work on nationalism continues to draw a mix of both admiration and criticism. In a recent article, Riga and Hall find fault with a new line of criticism of Gellner's theory of nationalism that I introduced in a series of articles in this journal. They claim that I have merely repeated a well‐known criticism of Gellner – that his work is functionalist. This would be convenient for their arguments if it were true. While I would agree, and have explicitly acknowledged, that there is nothing new in the charge of functionalism, I do not take a functionalist line on Gellner. Functionalism is not the issue. My work shows that his theory of nationalism is plagued with problems that have little or nothing to do with functionalism.