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Singapore: the politics of inventing national identity

Singapur: die Politik der nationalen Identität
[journal article]

Ortmann, Stephan

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Abstract This study wants to shed new light on the politics of Singapore's national identity invention. Since independence in 1965, the Singaporean government has tried to generate a sense of national identity in Singapore. While at first, the priority was on pragmatic values to promote the economic development, this changed in the late 1980s when the government became concerned with the widespread materialism within the society. As an alternative, so-called Asian values sought to provide an ideological alternative and a new basis for a stronger national identity. At the same time, average Singaporeans have developed their own unique conceptions of the city-state's national identity, which sometimes contradict the official nation-building efforts and thus constitute a subtle form of opposition. Many Singaporeans demand greater participation in the negotiation of their Singaporean identity, which demonstrates the difficulty of constructing a sustainable authoritarian civic national identity.
Keywords Singapore; national identity; state formation; economic development (on national level); nationalism; democracy; historical development; declaration of independence; society; economization; value change; value-orientation; materialism; participation; political change; conception; Southeast Asia
Classification Sociology of Developing Countries, Developmental Sociology; Political System, Constitution, Government; General History
Method applied research; historical
Free Keywords comparative science; Singapore; national identity; nation-building; economic development; nationalism; democracy; 1960-2010
Document language English
Publication Year 2009
Page/Pages p. 23-46
Journal Journal of Current Southeast Asian Affairs, 28 (2009) 4
ISSN 1868-4882
Status Published Version; peer reviewed
Licence Creative Commons - Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works