Does Nationhood Promote Egalitarian Justice? Challenging the National Identity Argument.

Abstract

The national identity argument suggests that sharing a national identity fosters social cohesion. This chapter considers a specific version of the argument, according to which shared national identities are required for, or at least facilitate, trust and solidarity and therefore egalitarian redistribution. The argument is assessed in terms of the theoretical arguments that can be provided for believing that national identities create trust and solidarity, more specifically, the ‘sympathy account’ and the ‘predictability account’ are considered. Furthermore, empirical studies that test the proposed causal relationship between national identity and social cohesion are scrutinized, focusing in particular on a recent Danish study. It is concluded that neither these theoretical considerations nor the available empirical evidence supports the national identity argument.