16 Jan 2023


What are Imagined Communities?

Format: Chicago

Academic level: College

Paper type: Essay (Any Type)

Words: 584

Pages: 2

Downloads: 0

Benedict Anderson discusses his view of the nation as a group of people that share similarities although they may not exhibit any form of physical touch in his book, Imagined Communities . Anderson describes the nation as a people, within or without a specific geographical location that are relate by the virtue of imagination that the other exits. He discredits the idea one nation since each lives under dependency of the other. Within the bounds of an imagined community, members do not know each other but they acknowledge of the existence of those they have not met. This paper seeks to dissect Benedicts’ ideas of an imagined community. 

The society of the 17 th and 18 th centuries experienced a great shift in the political and social arrangements. There was a new shaping witnessed by an evolving cosmology, which preceded the birth of the modern perception of an imagined community. According to Benedict’s view, an imagined community makes up a nation that is sovereign characterized by comradeship. This idea of the olden days persisted until the invention of the print media, which fed people with information about their vernacular, technology, and capitalism. The capacity to think of the world in multiple perceptions that may relate to what others’ views confirms Benedict’s idea of imagined communities. 

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The development of the print media brought about a new form of enlightenment. The spread of the newspaper brought awareness about the presence of other languages past the commonly spoken Latin and other vernaculars. i Through this, people were able to understand others in a way that was different from their own. This vast sharing of knowledge created the awareness of the presence of other people within the locality, who shared common ideologies thus creating a channel through which people could acknowledge one another. In a broader view, this notion created the experience of nationalism. Some languages dominated the print media than others leading to creation of languages-of-power, which were in common use by the vast majority. This led to weakening of certain vernaculars, while others assimilated into the forms of the dominant languages ii

The earliest conceptualization of a nation comes from the model of the creole communities. These associations of the early immigrants from both Americas brought the ideologies of a nation and the origins of nationalism. Using Benedict view, the concept of the creole became as the reference point from which four models that explained the understanding of nationalism and origins of a nation. From this, Benedicts derives the first model of the nation whose foundation was linguistic and the historians who later on came up with the explanation that languages are part of the key players in the development of nationalism due to their shared aspect iii . In the creole model, a common language of the territories strengthened nationalism as the people stood to fight in defense of the people with whom they shared a language. Apart from this, the origin of nationalism is attributable to the imperialism that existed in later establishments such as Russia, Thailand and England iv . Conservation of the belief in nationalism was possible due to the present of a common monarchial rule in these states. 

In conclusion, Anderson Benedict describes his concept of imagined communities are held together by their social constructs and the belief in the existence of others, because of the the fact that it is practically impossible for all the nationals to meet face-to-face, or talk to each other. Anderson uses the advent of the print media and the model of the creole states to bring about his understanding of the origins of nationalism. Religion, governance, kinship, and institutions of democracy have a role in explanation of modern nationalism. 

End Notes 

i Anderson, Benedict.   Imagined communities: Reflections on the origin and spread of nationalism , p.50 

ii Ibid., p. 53 

iii Ibid., p.52. 

iv Ibid., p.55 


Anderson, Benedict. Imagined communities: Reflections on the origin and spread of nationalism . London: Verso, 1991. 

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StudyBounty. (2023, September 14). What are Imagined Communities?.


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