Rethinking Banal Nationalism: Banal Americanism, Europeanism and the Missing Link between Media Representations and Identities

Vera Slavtcheva-Petkova


This article questions some tacit assumptions underpinning Michael Billig’s banal nationalism concept but also confirms the ongoing relevance of aspects of his central argument. It demonstrates that the taken-for-granted link between banal flaggings of nationalism in the media and national identities is highly problematic. Drawing on a content analysis of seven TV news and current affairs programs and an audience study with 174 children in Bulgaria and the United Kingdom as well as Eurobarometer survey data on adults, this article explores two “derivatives” of banal nationalism: banal Europeanism and banal Americanism. It demonstrates that banal nationalism does not entirely work as Billig anticipated in contexts outside the respective country’s national borders, especially regarding examples of deixis in the media coverage or embedded identities.

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