Nationalism Essay: Topics, Examples, & Tips

A nationalism essay is focused on the idea of devotion and loyalty to one’s country and its sovereignty. In your paper, you can elaborate on its various aspects. For example, you might want to describe the phenomenon’s meaning or compare the types of nationalism. You might also be interested in exploring nationalism examples: in various countries (South Africa, for instance), in international relations, in government, in world history, or even in everyday life.

This article by our custom-writing experts will help you succeed with your assignment. Here, you will find:

  • Definitions and comparisons of different types of nationalism;
  • A step-by-step nationalism essay writing guide;
  • A number of nationalism examples;
  • A list of 44 nationalism essay topics.

🔝 Top 10 Nationalism Essay Topics

  1. Irish nationalism in literature
  2. Cultural nationalism in India
  3. Can nationalism promote peace?
  4. The politics of contested nationalism
  5. How does religion influence nationalism?
  6. Does globalization diminish nationalism?
  7. Does nationalism promote imperialism?
  8. Nationalism in the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict
  9. How liberalism leads to economic nationalism
  10. Link between national identity and civic nationalism

❓ Nationalism Essay: What Is It About?

Nationalism is an idea that a nation’s interests are above those of other countries or individuals. It implies identifying with a nation and promoting its independence. In particular, nationalism ascribes value to a nation’s culture, traditions, religion, language, and territory.

In fact, “nationalism” is a very complicated term. It has many types and gradations that are exciting to explore. Besides, it has a long and varied history. In countries such as India and France nationalism helped to achieve democracy and independence. At the same time, in it extreme forms it led to wars and terrorism. Any of these aspects can be the focus of your nationalism essay.

Types of Nationalism

As we’ve mentioned before, nationalism is a complicated notion. It varies a lot from country to country as well as historically. That’s why scholars proposed a classification of nationalism types. It helps to reflect these differences. Check out some of the most popular forms of nationalism in the list below.

This picture shows 5 types of nationalism: cultural, civic, ethnic, economic, and religious.
  • Cultural nationalism. This type is centered on a nation’s culture and language. In the 1800s, it became a popular idea in Europe and postcolonial states. Cultural nationalism is reflected in the celebration of folklore and local dialects. For example, in Ireland it led to an increased interest in the Gaelic language. We can still find ideas related to this ideology today. A prominent example is Americans’ appreciation of their cultural symbols, such as the flag.
  • Civic nationalism. Civic nationalism’s definition is an idea of belonging through common rights. According to this ideology, the interests of a state are more important than those of a single nation. Civic nationalism is based on modern ideas of equality and personal freedom. These values help people achieve common goals. Nowadays, civic nationalism is closely associated with liberal Western countries.
  • Ethnic nationalism. This type is focused on common ethnicity and ancestry. According to ethno-nationalists, a country’s homogenous culture allows sovereignty. This ideology is considered controversial due to its association with racism and xenophobia. Ethnic nationalism’s pros and cons can be illustrated by its effects on culture in Germany. On the one hand, it influenced the art of the Romantic era. On the other, its extreme form led to the rise of Nazism.
  • Economic nationalism. A simple definition of economic nationalism is the idea that a government should protect its economy from outside influences. It leads to the discouragement of cooperation between countries. Such an approach has its benefits. However, it is often counterproductive. Scholars point out many failures throughout the history of economic nationalism. The Great Depression, for example, was prolonged due to this approach.
  • Religious nationalism. The fusion of politics and religion characterizes this ideology. Its proponents argue that religion is an integral part of a national identity. For instance, it helps to unite people. The rise of religious nationalism often occurs in countries that fight for independence. Notable examples are India, Pakistan, and Christian countries like Poland.

The Globalism vs Nationalism Debate

One of the fiercest debates concerning nationalism is focused on how it relates to globalism. These two attitudes are often seen as opposed to each other. Some even call globalism and nationalism “the new political divide.” Let’s see whether this point of view is justified.

Nowadays, communities around the world are becoming more and more homogenous. This unification and interconnectedness is called globalization, while an ideology focused on its promotion is known as globalism.

Naturally, these tendencies have their pros and cons. Want to learn more? Have a look at the table below.

👍 Is associated with progress and development. Is associated with patriotism and love for one’s country.
👍️ Promotes universal values around the world. Promotes common values within a nation.
👍 Values shared worldviews between nations. Values a country’s culture, history, and heritage.
👍 Seeks to solve global problems, such as climate change. Seeks specific solutions for local issues.
👍 Encourages free trade between countries. Encourages companies to produce local goods.
👎 The unification of cultures makes them increasingly indistinguishable. Extreme nationalism is linked to bigotry and xenophobia.
👎 Excessive focus on global cooperating can lead to missed opportunities at home. Excessive focus on one’s home country limits possibilities of cooperating with nations abroad.
👎 Advanced communication leads to mental health problems. Protection from outside influences hinders a nation’s progress.

As you can see, both notions have their strong and weak aspects. But can globalism and nationalism coexist? In fact, many scholars say “yes, they can.” Instead of choosing either option, people can combine their best traits. This way, we will promote effective communication and collaboration.

Nationalism vs. Patriotism

You may be wondering: Is nationalism a synonym for patriotism? The answer is that both words denote pride and love for one’s country. However, there is an important distinction to be made. While patriotism has a generally positive meaning, nationalism has a negative one.

This picture shows a comparison between nationalism and patriotism.

The main difference lies in the attitude towards other nations:

  • Patriotism doesn’t imply that one’s nation is superior to others. Generally, this term refers to how the state approaches its ideals, values, and culture. In this case, a patriot of a particular country can represent any nation, regardless of their origin.
  • In contrast, nationalism implies an idea of a nation’s sovereignty. This means that a country’s interests are viewed separately from the rest of the world. It also focuses on the importance of nation’s culture and ethnicity. In extreme situations, these values may result in an idea of supremacy.

In short, nationalism is patriotism taken to the extreme. With this in mind, let’s have a look at positive and negative effects of nationalism. An essay on any of the following points will surely be a success.

✔️ Nationalism Pros and Cons

If you have to write an essay on “why nationalism is good”, here are some of its key benefits for you to consider:

✔️Nationalism facilitates nations’ development.Nationalism emphasizes collective identity. This encourages people to strengthen their nation while working together on for the common good.
✔️Nationalism is related to personal success. Have you ever heard about the American Dream? It’s the idea that anyone may come to the United States and achieve what they want. Nationalism inspires people to succeed.
✔️Nationalism encourages countries to liberate themselves from foreign invaders. It can be the force that unites people, inspiring them to fight back. It’s especially true for nationalism based on a freedom movement. An example of this phenomenon is India before 1947.
✔️Protectionist policies improve the domestic economy. Nationalist politics can influence a country’s economy. Protectionism, for example, is a way to restrict imports. Bans, tariffs, and taxes are its popular methods. These efforts often help to drive the local economy.
✔️Nationalism makes crisis management easier. From time to time, each country faces crises. However, the ways in which nations deal with them differ. A nationalist society may overcome these periods more easily.
✔️Ideology can create political stability. Nationalist leaders can stabilize a country’s political system. Under a nationalist regime, loyalists fill the top government jobs. It reduces the potential for political quarrels.
✔️Nationalism can pave the way for democracy. The desire for self-government often promotes democratic movements. A prime example of this is the French Revolution. The 2020 protests in Belarus are a more recent case.
✔️Pan-nationalist movements can unite countries with similar beliefs. Pan-nationalism is a common idea in the Middle East and in Africa. Such movements strive to unify similar cultures under one banner. It can also help stabilize the economy.
✔️Nationalism accelerates state-building. Once a nation has claimed its territory, it needs to build a government. Nationalists often have clear ideas about how to rule a country. Such leaders are interested in the rapid development of crucial state structures.
✔️Cultural preservation is a central concern for nationalists. Most nations pride themselves on their culture. Their unique traditions are the foundation of their identities. Protective policies can be a crucial concern for a nationalist government.

But what about the concept’s drawbacks? After all, nothing can be 100% beneficial. For a credible investigation, it’s necessary to examine both sides of the topic. Here are some disadvantages to consider for a paper on nationalism:

Nationalism can lead to separation. When nationalism becomes aggressive, it can lead to trade restrictions. On the one hand, such policies stimulate the production of goods. On the other hand, trade wars lead to the loss of export markets.
Aggressive nationalism can lead to discrimination.  Nationalism can lead to the separation of people based on race, ethnicity, religion, wealth, etc. Some examples are racial supremacy in Mussolini’s Italy and Hitler’s Germany.
Extreme forms of nationalism can lead to terrorism and even war.  When a community focuses on nationalist ideals, it might develop an idea of supremacy. If they believe their principles and values are under attack, it can even lead to war. Examples include the Russian invasion of Georgia in 2008 and Ukraine in 2014.
Nationalism leads to imperialism and colonialism.  Many European nations expanded their trade by conquering other countries. This often led to mass genocides and enslavement. Notable imperialists are England, Spain, and the Netherlands.
Extremism of any kind endangers peace. Ultranationalism can go beyond the struggle for a nation’s independence. Often it involves attacking other peoples. It may even result in civil wars. The Israeli-Palestine conflict is a prime example of such warfare.
“Nation First” policies threaten global cooperation. Countries’ nationalist tendencies interfere with their foreign affairs. The events in Europe and the US in 2020 have demonstrated the effects of such policies.
Nationalist ideology perpetuates stereotypes. Nationalism often implies that one ethnicity is superior to others. Its rhetoric includes criticism of other peoples. This way, it appeals to existing stereotypes and exacerbates them.
Nationalism corrupts education. A nationalist country would educate children according to the ideology. It especially affects classes such as history or social studies. They can become a platform for spreading dangerous ideas.
Supranationalism can throw a country’s economy off balance. Unions such as the EU or the WTO make grand promises to their members. However, for smaller countries, membership can be straining. Citizens may want to choose a separate path to protect their economy. The Brexit referendum is an example of this phenomenon.
Nationalist policies can result in strict immigration laws. Immigrants’ diverse cultures don’t correlate with nationalists’ values. Such governments often strive to create a homogenous population. They belittle the importance of other cultures and hinder integration.

As you can see, nationalism can lead both to prosperity and destruction. Now you know why keeping the balance is crucial to a nation’s well-being. Think about it when you write your argumentative essay on nationalism.

📜 Nationalism Essay Structure

Now, let’s take a closer look at the essay structure. When writing your paper on nationalism, follow this outline:

✔️ Your introduction should emphasize the importance of discussing nationalism. Describing the distinction between a state and a nation is a good start.
✔️ The thesis should express your main claim. For example, if you’re writing about nationalism and patriotism, your thesis should demonstrate your conclusion whether they’re similar or different.
✔️ Develop your essay’s body by putting forward strong arguments. Historical sources can be of great help.
✔️ For your conclusion, it’s vital to show you’ve understood the term “nationalism”. You will also need to present your position. While writing a conclusion, try to outline and reemphasize your thesis, adding your own thoughts and views on this issue.

So, was the writing process as hard as you expected? Nationalism essays indeed require a little bit more time and research than other papers. Nonetheless, you can only benefit from this experience.

🌐 Nationalism Essay Topics

Don’t know which nationalism essay topic to choose? Try one of the ideas below:

  1. How do nationalism and patriotism differ? The former is linked to acquiring territories perceived as the homeland. The latter means taking pride in the nation’s achievements. Scholars sometimes consider patriotism a form of nationalism.
  2. How does nationalism affect the distribution of the Sars-CoV-2 vaccine? Determine whether the countries with nationalist tendencies are more successful in getting their population vaccinated.
  3. Nationality politics in the Soviet Union. Under the rule of Stalin, the USSR transformed into a totalitarian state. But before that, Lenin took care to enact extensive ethnicity laws. What happened when Stalin slammed the brakes on the program?
  4. Perceiving nationalism as bad: why is it common? For many, the word itself evokes negative associations. For a person who considers themselves a liberal, it may seem like a great evil. Where does this perception come from? What benefits does nationalism have for liberals?
  5. Nationalist ideology and its many categories. In nationalism studies, the main distinction is between its ethnic and civic types. But there are many other categories that you can explore. Use this prompt to give an overview of such concepts.
  6. Religious nationalism: Crusades vs. Jihad. In the Middle Ages, Christians tried to stop Islam’s expansion via bloody crusades. In modern times, the call to jihad is used to mobilize extremist Muslims. What are the major differences between these types of holy war?
  7. What role does nationalism play in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict Israel and Palestine have been fighting for decades over what they believe to be a holy land. The dispute appears to be unsolvable. What arguments do both parties bring forth? How does Arab nationalism come into play here?
  8. The development of nationalism over time. The French Revolution was the result of nationalist thinking. However, what we perceive as nationalist today is different from what it was back then. In your essay, trace the origins and evolution of the term “nationalism” and its meaning.
  9. Prominent dictators then and now: a comparison. Hitler, Mussolini, and Franco are well-known names. But how do they compare to modern authoritarian leaders? When answering this question, evaluate the role of nationalist ideology.
  10. What are some political disadvantages of nationalism? Populist leaders are often unpopular with other politicians. Some examples are Poland’s PiS party and Donald Trump. Discuss how a nationalist stance can affect domestic policies.
  11. Arab nationalism and its influence on the world economy.
  12. Nationalism vs. liberalism.
  13. German nationalism and the World Wars.
  14. Economic nationalism: pros and cons.
  15. European nationalism in the 20th century.
  16. Globalism vs. nationalism: how do they differ?
  17. Jewish nationalism and its influence on the formation of the Israeli state.
  18. Relationship between nationalism and religion.
  19. Nationalism in Orwell’s novels.
  20. The French Revolution: how nationalism influenced the political system change.
  21. Is nationalism objectively good or bad?
  22. Nationalism, transnationalism, and globalism: differences and similarities.
  23. Russian nationalism in the 21st century and its impact on the world political system.
  24. Nationalism as a catalyst for war.
  25. Liberal nationalism and radical nationalism: benefits and disadvantages.
  26. Evaluate the significance of national identity.
  27. What is the difference between race and ethnicity?
  28. How can love of a country positively impact a state’s healthcare system?
  29. What fueled the rise of nationalism in the post-socialist space?
  30. Trace the connection between nationalist ideology and morality.
  31. What countries are considered nationalizing?
  32. Compare the conflicts where nationalism hinders solution.
  33. Choose five aspects of neo-nationalism and analyze them.
  34. Nationalist expressions in art.
  35. Nationalism in Ukraine: consequences of the Crimean annexation.
  36. Revolution and nationalism in South America.
  37. Examine the significance of street names to spread nationalist views.
  38. Why do people grow attached to a specific territory?
  39. The political power of nationalist language and propaganda.
  40. What does the feminist theory say about chauvinism?
  41. What makes post-colonial nationalism unique?
  42. Assess the difference between Western and non‐Western nationalism.
  43. Sex and gender in nationalism.
  44. Civic and ethnic forms of nationalism: similarities and differences.

📝 Nationalism Examples & Essay Prompts

Want more ideas? Check out these additional essay prompts on some of the crucial nationalism topics!

Nationalism in South Africa Essay Prompt

South African nationalism is a movement aimed at uniting indigenous African peoples and protecting their values. An essay on this topic can consist of the following parts:

  • The factors that led to the rise of African nationalism. These include dissatisfaction with colonial oppression, racial discrimination, and poor living conditions.
  • Effects of African nationalism. One significant achievement is indigenous peoples regaining their territories. They also improved their status and revived their culture that was distorted by colonialism.
  • Conclusion of African nationalism. With time, the struggle for autonomy evolved into an idea of Pan Africanism. This concept refers to the unification of indigenous South African peoples.

Nationalism in India Essay Prompt

Nationalism in 19th-century India was a reaction against British rule. One of its defining characteristics is the use of non-violent protests. Your essay on this topic may cover the following aspects:

  • Mahatma Gandhi and Indian nationalism. Gandhi was a pioneer of non-violent civil disobedience acts. His adherence to equality inspired many human rights activists.
  • Cultural nationalism in India. Pride rooted in national heritage, language, and religion played a crucial role in Indian nationalism. One of the most important figures associated with this movement is Bengal poet Rabindranath Tagore.

Nationalism in the Philippines Essay Prompt

Nationalism in the Philippines has a unique chronological pattern. It’s also closely related to the Philippino identity. You can explore these and other aspects in your essay:

  • The rise of Filipino nationalism in the 19th century. Discuss the role of José Rizal and the Propaganda Movement in these events.
  • Nationalism and patriotism in the Philippines. Compare the levels of patriotism at different points in the country’s history.
  • Is there a lack of nationalism in the Philippines? Studies show that Filipinos have a relatively weak sense of nationhood and patriotism. What is your perspective on this problem?

How Did Nationalism Lead to WWI?: Essay Prompt

Nationalism is widely considered to be one of the leading causes of WWI. Discuss it with the following prompts:

  • Militarism and nationalism before WWI. Militarism is a belief in a country’s military superiority. Assess its role in countries such as the British and Russian Empires before the war.
  • How did imperialism contribute to WWI? Imperialism refers to a nation’s fight for new territories. It fuelled the rivalry between the world’s leading countries before the war.
  • Nationalism in the Balkans and the outbreak of WWI. Write a persuasive essay on the role of the Balkan crisis in Franz Ferdinand’s assassination. How did this event lead to the outbreak of war?

Want to see what a paper on this topic may look like? Check out this nationalism essay example:


Title How Did Nationalism Lead to WWI?
Introduction The reasons for the beginning of World War I are argued among historians. At the beginning of the twentieth century, many European countries had cultural, economic, and military superiority, which led to their exaltation. Economic and technological progress had both positive and negative consequences.
Thesis statement Nationalism was gradually promoted in the press and mass media. The adherents of nationalism saw the interests of other nations as less of a priority than their own. It is impossible to ignore the fact that these mass movements had a serious influence on the events of WWI.
Body paragraph 1 The idea of opposing an overwhelming state is seen as noble but often leads to protracted wars. This was most evident in Serbia, where nationalism was at its peak before the war. Therefore, it is not surprising that more distinct nationalism began to emerge in the suppressed countries.
Body paragraph 2 Nationalism was represented not only by social movements but also by militaristic ones. It was important for leaders to create a sense of power so that other countries would see their superiority in the event of war. Every leading nation saw its military advantages and was not afraid of hostilities.
Body paragraph 3 The fact of the influence of nationalist ideas on World War I is of great importance because this social phenomenon is still relevant. Even in a relatively peaceful modern society, there are many supporters of radical nationalism, which indicates the dangers of possible military conflicts.
Conclusion Nationalism played a huge role in the minds of people at the beginning of the 20th century, and, consequently, in leading Europe to war. Perhaps the origins of the ideas of nationalism arose through inculcation, but the scale of military events and their results show that the population supported it. It is important to remember these events to avoid their recurrence.

Now you have all you need to write an excellent essay on nationalism. Liked this article? Let us know in the comment section below!

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✏️ Nationalism Essay FAQ

❓ What is nationalism, and why is it important?

You can define nationalism as the identification with nation and support of its interests. Nationalism is aimed at protecting a nation from foreign influences. This idea is important because it helps a country be strong and independent.

❓ What are the three forms of nationalism?

Most specialists highlight religious, political, and ethnic nationalism. Different classifications suggest various types of nationalism. It can be positive and negative, militant, extreme, etc. The phenomenon is complex and multidimensional. You can find it in most societies.

❓ How to write about nationalism?

Nationalism is a complex phenomenon. It has positive and negative sides. Because of this, it’s crucial to write about it objectively. In any academic text on nationalism you should provide relevant arguments, quotes, and other evidence.

❓ What is a nationalism essay?

A nationalism essay focuses on the concept’s principles, advantages, and disadvantages. You can find numerous articles and research papers about it online or in your school’s library. Beware of copying anything directly: use them only as a source of inspiration.

🔗 References

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Comments (5)


Hi. Can you please help me out in getting a simple topic to discuss/write for my final essay in my masters programme pertaining to nationalism. I’m new to this field of study and would want to enjoy reading and writing this final essay. Thanks in advance for your help.


Thanks to historians all over the world!

Noreen Devine
Noreen Devine

I have to write a 3000-word essay on the following topic: “Is it possible to imagine nationalism without the nation”? I find the readings difficult to understand and would greatly appreciate any help you could give me. Thank you. Noreen Devine

Custom Writing
Custom Writing

Hi Noreen,
We’d be happy to help you with this task. Don’t hesitate to place an order with our writing company. Our best writer will help you understand the readings and create a great paper.

Alphonse Ryan
Alphonse Ryan

To Whom it May Concern,
Thank you so much for your help. This morning I was reading your tips on how to write an essay about nationalism, and I find that it’s so helpful. I will contact you soon for help.