Politics of Inclusion and Exclusion: Constructs and Narratives on Citizenship, Nationalism and Cultural Identity

AUTHOR/S:  Christine S.  Diaz

DATE COMPLETED: January 12, 2017



              A qualitative research design using in-depth interviews was utilized to examine respondents’ social constructs, behavioral expressions, symbols of citizenship, nationalism and cultural identity. The research also endeavored to look into the experiences of inclusion and exclusion on account of citizenship, nationalism and cultural identity.

               The social constructs of citizenship indicate dominant concepts such as identity, sense of belonging, membership to a political community, conferment of political benefits and privileges, responsibility, loyalty, and compliance to laws. Noteworthy is the construct that citizenship is a piece of paper. The narratives indicate that citizenship is behaviorally expressed through habits, practices, beliefs, language, political and social involvement, patronizing of Filipino products, enjoyment of benefits and privileges, freedom, and geographic location. There are varied symbols of citizenship seen in legal, geographic, material and non-material dimensions.

                 The social constructs of nationalism are captured by the themes such as, patriotism, belongingness to a nation, contribution to one’s country, loyalty to the country, race, being a Filipino by heart, as well as identity. Others viewed nationalism as a similar concept as nationalism. In terms of behavioral expressions of nationalism, the dominant manifestations are through patronizing of Filipino-made products, being a courageous Filipino, serving the country, obeying the laws and being proud as a Filipino. Furthermore, language, culture, and traditions were also cited as ways by which nationalism can be articulated in behavioral terms. The material markers of nationalism are the Philippine flag, Filipino products, Philippine national symbols, including the ‘jeepney’. There are non-material markers of nationalism depicted through actions, practices, feelings and support to Filipino personalities with great achievements that are recognized abroad.

               Cultural identity constructs also abound. From the standpoint of the respondents, cultural identity means way of life, belongingness, classification or distinction, language and dialect. Others viewed cultural identity and nationalism as identical terms. The behavioral expression of cultural identity is best articulated through Filipino traits and values, religion, showcase of products and language.

                Citizenship, nationalism and cultural identity mean inclusion of people. Inclusion is felt when there is a sense of togetherness and unity, when help is extended to a fellow citizen and when members of a group show concern on issues affecting the country. The use of common language or dialect, participation in festivities and celebrations, and common attire were cited as locators of inclusion. Interestingly, the sentiment of inclusion becomes intense when one sees a ‘kababayan’ abroad.

             Furthermore, citizenship, nationalism and cultural identity can also trigger feelings of exclusion. Based on the shared experiences of respondents, exclusion is experienced when there is unfair treatment, discrimination, stereotyping, and criticism from social media. Others felt excluded when they are with foreigners and during international competitions. Dialect, religion, language, and traditions can alienate others. However, exclusion happens also even among “cultures and subcultures within a culture”. Some wish to become excluded from a group when there are disappointing circumstances involving their member. Furthermore, territorial dispute was seen as a location for exclusion because it demarcates boundaries including people’s identities.

          The research poses a challenge to rethink the concepts of citizenship, nationalism and cultural identity. Such concepts are experienced and witnessed in peoples’ daily lives and struggles and can both include and exclude groups or communities. They are forces behind actions, thoughts and movements as well as the search for and affirmation of identities.

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