Armenian Nationalism vs. Armenian State: Cleavages and Coalitions in the Discourses on Sasna Tsrer

Armenian Nationalism vs. Armenian State:
Cleavages and Coalitions in the Discourses on Sasna Tsrer

Fomin I.V.,

Researcher, Immanuel Kant Baltic Federal University; Associate Professor, National Research University Higher School of Economics; Researcher, Institute of Scientific Information for Social Sciences, RAS,

elibrary_id: 638552 | ORCID: 0000-0003-4703-5262 | RESEARCHER_ID: R-8897-2016

Silaev N.Yu.,

Senior Researcher, MGIMO-University,

elibrary_id: 435265 |

DOI: 10.17976/jpps/2018.03.06

For citation:

Fomin I.V., Silaev N.Yu. Armenian Nationalism vs. Armenian State: Cleavages and Coalitions in the Discourses on Sasna Tsrer. – Polis. Political Studies. 2018. No. 3. P. 78-92. (In Russ.).


The article is devoted to the analysis of the discursive practices of Armenian nationalism that were used in media during the acute political crisis caused by the terroristic attack of Sasna Tsrer armed group in July 2016. 316 messages from Armenian mass media were analysed in order to define the groups of speakers (“coalitions”) who used one of three major discursive strategies of representation of Sasna Tsrer: 1) approval, 2) justification or 3) condemnation. The composition and structure of each coalition was examined by mapping the social ties of speakers. The “condemnation coalition” mainly consisted of high-ranked state bureaucrats and members of the ruling parliamentary coalition, while the “approval coalition” mostly included liberal and nationalistic political parties and NGO representatives, Armenian diaspora members, influential performing artists and some Nagorno-Karabakh war veterans. Quantitative analysis showed that it was the “approval coalition” that dominated in the media discourse, while the condemnation strategy was marginalized. In R. Brubaker’s terms, interpretative battle for the denomination and definition of the armed group’s actions was lost by the ruling Armenian elites. Two competing interpretative frames clashed in the discourses on Sasna Tsrer. One of them is the statist frame (connected to condemnation strategy) and the other is counter-statist (connected to the strategy of approval). These two frames directly correspond to the two types of nationalist doctrines and movements, outlined by R. Brubaker, – the state-framed and the counter-state ones. Paradoxically in the studied case both types of nationalism appeal to the same nation, the Armenian one. It was B. Anderson who also noticed the ambivalent nature of nationalism, as it can be both a revolutionary force and a stabilizing one, but in the Armenian case this ambivalence is accompanied by a specific constellation of different types of capital (by P. Bourdieu). The analysis of the discourse of Sasna Tsrer shows that those who hold political and economic capital fail to convert it to symbolic capital, because of the weakness of the etatist frame on nation. At the same time the symbolic capital holders who position themselves discursively through the counter-etatist frame are deprived of political and economic capital.

Armenia; Nagorno-Karabakh; nation building; nationalism; political discourse in Armenia; Sasna Tsrer; semantic maps; mass media; discursive social network analysis; social networks.


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Content No. 3, 2018

See also:

Atanesyan A.V.,
“Velvet Revolution” in Armenia: Potential, Gains and Risks of Political Protest Activity. – Polis. Political Studies. 2018. No6

Semenenko I.S., Lapkin V.V., Bardin A.L., Pantin V.I.,
Between the State and the Nation: Dilemmas of Identity Policy in Post-Soviet Societies. – Polis. Political Studies. 2017. No5

Lantzov S.A.,
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Sarkisyan H.L., Dunamalyan N.A.,
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Timofeyeva L.N., Ryabchenko N.A., Malysheva O.P., Gnedash A.A.,
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Polis. Political Studies
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Pictorial Imperialism

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