Home News What is the main basis of people’s national identity, says research

What is the main basis of people’s national identity, says research

by Afonso
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People give the most importance to language and customs as the main elements of national identity. This information has been reported in a survey report by the American research institute Pew Research Center. But views on the importance of place of birth and religion further divide people, the survey report noted.

These results were found in a survey conducted among 28,250 people in 23 countries from February 20 to May 22, 2023.

In a Pew Research Center survey, 91 percent of participants said being able to speak their country’s most common language was important to being considered a true national identity. Eighty-one percent of participants said sharing their country’s customs and traditions is important to a true national identity. However, there are mixed opinions about the importance of place of birth and religion in national identity.

Among the four dimensions of national identity included in the survey, participants rated language as the most valuable, according to a Pew Research Center report. In countries where we asked about it, about eight in 10 or more participants pointed to language as important to the country’s true identity. At least six in 10 people in 13 countries considered it an important factor.

The survey participants cited the customs and traditions of a country as important. Almost seven out of every 10 participants or more consider sharing national customs and traditions to be truly important in most countries. Since 2016, the emphasis on sharing national norms has decreased somewhat, with Germany, Japan and the UK having ‘double digits’ (two-digit numbers between participants).

According to the report, the connection between place of birth and national identity is somewhat weak. Majorities in almost half of the countries said being born there was important to belonging to a true national identity. The study found that middle-income countries placed more emphasis on place of birth than high-income countries. At least three-quarters of seven middle-income countries believe that being born in their country is important to being considered a true national.
Notably, UN research shows that middle-income countries host a lower share of international migrants than high-income countries.

Views on religion as a component of national identity varied significantly across the countries surveyed, with several middle-income countries considering it particularly important. By contrast, in high-income countries such as Australia, France, Spain and Sweden, fewer than one in four think it is important to be a member of a dominant religion.


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