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Language, Identity, and the Nationalist Impulse: Quebec
The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science
Vol. 538, Being and Becoming Canada (Mar., 1995), pp. 69-82
Published by: Sage Publications, Inc. in association with the American Academy of Political and Social Science
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1048327
Page Count: 14
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Quebec nationalism constitutes a clear case of ethnonationalism in the developed world. This article draws on the research of social psychologist Henri Tajfel, who argues that ethnic movements are motivated primarily by a need to establish a positive social identity. It also identifies language, and in this case the French language, as both the distinguishing characteristic of ethnic identity and the principal vehicle of ethnic assertiveness. The origins of Quebec ethnonationalism are surveyed, and then it is examined in the context of the highly modern and democratic society that the province has become. Answers are sought to such questions as: In what measure is it a specific case, and in what measure does it reflect wider trends? How can its present exceptional vitality be explained? How different is Quebec really from the rest of Canada, indeed, of North America? Do those differences require it to be a separate country? The burning question of whether Quebec will in fact become a sovereign state remains unanswered, but information and insights are provided on which to base conjectures on the subject.
The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science © 1995 American Academy of Political and Social Science