Becoming Banal: Incentivizing and Monopolizing the Nation in Post-Soviet Russia

J. Paul Goode

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While new regimes often seek legitimation by forging banal ties between state and nation (or “banalization”), there have been few attempts to explain how nationalism becomes banal, to account for variations in the process across different types of regimes, or to establish clear criteria for identifying successes or failures in banalization. This article presents an original theoretical framework for understanding banalization as a social and political process involving attempts to either incentivize or monopolize national expression, depending on the type of political regime. Drawing on interviews and focus groups conducted during 2014–2016, a case study of post-Soviet Russia fleshes out the process and outcomes of banalization across different kinds of regimes from the 1990s to the present. It further suggests the value of examining banalization as a regime process in accounting for the ways that the successes or failures of banalization influence their successors’ pursuit of legitimation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)679-697
Number of pages19
JournalEthnic and Racial Studies
Issue number4
Early online date8 Apr 2020
Publication statusPublished - 31 Dec 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by a Fulbright Association Research Fellowship [grant ID 48141501]. This manuscript benefited from feedback received at conferences and workshops for the Association for the Study of Nationalities (ASN), the British International Studies Association (BISA), and the Program on New Approaches to Security in Eurasia (PONARS). The author is grateful to Jon Fox, Sam Greene, Eleanor Knott, Peter Rutland, Michael Skey, and David Stroup for helpful comments on earlier drafts. Any errors or omissions are the author?s sole responsibility.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.


  • Banal nationalism
  • Russia
  • authoritarianism
  • everyday nationalism
  • hybrid regimes
  • legitimation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • Anthropology
  • Sociology and Political Science


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