Britishness as political identity

Didier Revest

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Abstract :
The British state is currently struggling to ward off the nationalist threat (in particular in Scotland). Some are therefore convinced that the British state and the kind of identification it presupposes are mortally wounded, a situation which, in fact, they do not lament, far from it. My starting point in the article is to analyze why they believe so. This leads me to the conclusion that nation and state in Britain are not coextensive. I then try to explain that this peculiar political settlement is not so imperfect as it is often made out to be. It simply rests on an approach to the question of individual rights that is inherently flexible (as will be expected in a country where the concept of national identity cannot be taken for granted), unlike the kind of settlement the Welsh and Scottish Nationalists are advocating. The most interesting point, however, may well be that, in spite of the changing nature of people’s self-definitions (with more emphasis on Scottishness, Welshness and Englishness than in the past), the conception of economic and social solidarity most members of the electorate still share throughout the land is based on a clearly British form of political identity.
Published : 2010-03-11


Didier Revest, « Britishness as political identity », Cycnos, 2010-03-11. URL :