Nationalism is a political, social, and economic system characterized by promoting the interests of a particular nation or ethnic group, particularly with the aim of gaining and maintaining
self-governance, or full
sovereignty, over the group's
political ideology therefore holds that a nation should govern itself, free from unwanted outside interference, and is linked to the concept of
self-determination. Nationalism is further oriented towards developing and maintaining a
national identity based on shared characteristics such as culture, language, race, religion, political goals or a belief in a common ancestry.
 Nationalism therefore seeks to preserve the nation's culture. It often also involves a sense of pride in the nation's achievements, and is closely linked to the concept of patriotism. In some cases, nationalism referred to the belief that a nation should be able to control the government and all means of production.
From a political or sociological outlook, there are three main
paradigms for understanding the origins and basis of nationalism. The first, known as
primordialism or perennialism, sees nationalism as a natural phenomenon. It holds that, although the concept of nationhood may be recent, nations have always existed. The second paradigm is
ethnosymbolism, which is a complex perspective seeking to explain nationalism by contextualizing it throughout history as a dynamic, evolutionary phenomenon and by further examining the strength of nationalism as a result of the nation's subjective ties to national symbols imbued with historical meaning. The third and most dominant paradigm is
modernism, which sees nationalism as a recent phenomenon that needs the structural conditions of modern society to exist.
There are various definitions for what constitutes a nation, however, which leads to several different
strands of nationalism. It can be a belief that
citizenship in a state should be limited to one
ethnic, cultural, religious, or identity group, or that multinationality in a single state should necessarily comprise the right to express and exercise national identity even by minorities. The adoption of national identity in terms of historical development has commonly been the result of a response by influential groups unsatisfied with traditional identities due to inconsistency between their defined social order and the experience of that social order by its members, resulting in a situation of
anomie that nationalists seek to resolve. This anomie results in a society or societies reinterpreting identity, retaining elements that are deemed acceptable and removing elements deemed unacceptable, to create a unified community. This development may be the result of internal structural issues or the result of resentment by an existing group or groups towards other communities, especially foreign powers that are or are deemed to be controlling them. Nationalism means devotion for the nation. It is a sentiment that binds the people together.
National symbols and
national myths and other symbols of national identity are highly important in nationalism.