British Identity

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The debate about British Identity has been prominently featured in recent years as a public concern. The foundation of British Identity was based on the act of union in 1801 between England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland that created Great Britain. Heath and Roberts describe this identity as “a relatively recent construct and was gradually superimposed on earlier national identities of English, Welsh, Scottish and Irish” (2008:4). The four nations were unified mainly because of the political and economic project of the British Empire that developed a shared agenda and The Second World War which melted the distinctive differences between the constituent nations (Ward, 2004). According to Colley, the interests that unified the nations do not exist and even if they do” they are less distinctive” (1992). Although there is identification with Britishness, it is noticeable that Britons hold a stronger allegiance to their primary nation. The British Identity is decreasing as many writers suggested, and this is due to many different trends and influences such as globalization, immigration and communication (Heath and Roberts, 2008). This essay highlights some of the reasons of the decline in the British national identity and the rise of the consentient nation’s sentiment. This is approached by firstly considering the internal factors of the devolution of power to Scotland and Wales, and secondly the external factor of immigration and will analyze the relationship between age and identification with a nation. In their book, Smith and Wistrich state that Britain sensed a problem in the identity once there has been devolution of power to Scotland and Wales in 1998 (2009). It maybe true that Scots and Welsh feel more attached to their own na... ... middle of paper ... .... According to Pippa Norris, an individual's degree of nationalism is constructed in a young age and it is based on “the international context of the time “(stone and Muir, 2007:5), for example, citizens who were born in the 1940s in the time of the World War II will have a stronger sense of Britishness than the ones born in the time of globalization and conflicts over the EU. The younger generations identify less with Britain than their parents or grandparents. The Home Office Citizenship Survey consider age to be the most powerful driver of “belonging to Britain” and the survey show that people over 75 years old feel the strongest identification with Britain (Heath and Roberts, 2008). If the same trend of a weak national allegiance among younger generations remains in the upcoming years, the British national identity will sure be weakened (Stone and Muir, 2007).
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