Call Yourself British? National identity in the United Kingdom in the twentieth century
Britishness has come under much pressure since the mid-1960s and many commentators consider that the scale and extent of the challenges to being British are so great that a unified British national identity is coming to an end. This essay argues that Britishness was challenged across the twentieth century, both territorially, from Scotland and Wales, and ethnically, and that state and society have grown accustomed to responding to desire for national distinctiveness within the United Kingdom. It moves on to consider the qualitative difference in discussions of Britishness after the 1960s, focussing on suggestions that the end of Empire removed the reason for being British. It questions such an assumption because the British accommodated 'end of Empire' within their Britishness rather than seeing it as a challenge to traditionally-held notions of their national character. Subsequently, the essay suggests that forecasts of the demise of Britishness need to be treated with caution.
Published : 2010-03-11