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Repertoires of national boundaries in France and Germany—within‐country cleavages and their political consequences

Nations and Nationalism

Published online on


This article analyses how members of the majority population in France and Germany define membership in the nation and how they relate to the various civic, cultural, or ethnic visions of national belonging available in the cultural repertoires of historical models, institutional arrangements, and elite discourses. To scrutinize within‐country differences in the configurations of the symbolic boundaries of national belonging, this article applies cluster analysis techniques for each country separately using data from the International Social Survey Program (ISSP). Overall, the results suggest that people choose and arrange different criteria from cultural repertoires, resulting in various configurations of national boundaries. Furthermore, the number and types of symbolic boundaries used are decisive for explaining restrictive and hostile attitudes towards immigrants. Contrary to the civic and ethnic historical models, the national boundary configurations display very similar patterns across the two countries, especially attesting to the considerable process of liberalization of citizenship regulations in Germany.