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British National Identity Essay Example

Does a Distinctive British Identity Exist

The concept of “Britishness” is crucial in studies of the British nation and the factors of its formation as the major player within the political and cultural scene of the 21st century. The situation with the “British identity is the theme for studies for a great number of researchers, both in historical and social dimensions. The major reopened question in them is related to cooperation with other national identities, with representatives of the immigrant waves that are to be present in the British society, no more and yet no less. Since it is known that about 10% of the population of the UK is Asian immigrants including Pakistani, Afghani, etc., it would be rationally predetermined that the theme of this paper can be about immigration in the context of globalism. In this relation, the concept of “Britishness” that for some researchers can be treated as obsolete according to the famous historian David Starkey, “a British nation doesn’t exist” (BBC News 2015) for there are no concrete evidence of geographically located individuals who tend to strive for the British national idea, specifically as all already know that there is a country of United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

According to other researcher Gwynfor Evans, “Britishness” is a political synonym for Englishness, which extends English culture over the Scots, Welsh, and the Irish” (Evans 2015). In the context of political expansion that the United Kingdom uses to operate within the political, economical, social, an cultural arena, there is less of share of the logical rather than emotional aspect. This context is extended on the periods to the past when the British cultural expansion started to come across the lands of the neighbouring countries. The examples from history go back to the Scottish struggle led by William Wallace and the time of Irish revolts.

The scope of this research covers the problem of “Britishness” in both aspects: 1) national identity; 2) nationalist struggle for British expansion. These both dimensions of this research are used as applicable to the situation with immigrants. The specific actualization of this problem came across the British society after the terrorist attacks in the USA known as 9/11 when the United Kingdom supported the U.S. government in struggle against international terrorism along with the strengthening the control over the immigrants all over the globe. Unluckily, the endeavours to struggle against political terror turned deeply suppressive to peaceful immigrants, many of whom turned to be under suspicion of terrorism.

In this relation, the research questions in this study would be the following:

  1. Is British identity of young (19-25 years old) generation in specific location (London City Area) helps them to perceive immigrants differently in comparison to the older generation (45-55)?
  2. Are religious beliefs and identity significant in some group’s view of national identity, if so, why?
    These two research questions are designed to generate the concrete opinion on the extensions that are to be relevant to the lifestyle of people, their degree of national identity as it goes with the values that have been transferred throughout different generations, traditionally from the younger to the old generations. In this relation, it is clear that these research questions would be relevant to the most typical points of view that can be considered as greatly dependant on the historical facts.

Research Focus Fieldwork

This research will focus on the fieldwork of the perception of the “Britishness” in two age groups: people in the age of 19-25 years old; people in the age of 45-55. Later, these groups would be compared as for their way to perceive the concept of “Britishness” as it goes in their minds as flashbacks in relevance to the attitude to immigrants. Furthermore, religious beliefs would be taken into consideration in this research in regard to both the groups.


Methodological section will introduce some methods including the anthropological one that can highlight the benefits and the use of appropriate structure of survey. This is chosen as one of the most appropriate ways to work out the anthropological method.

The connection with people will be attained in the streets where the majority of people are going round being busy with their deals. However, there is no doubt that a part of people will definitely find some time to dedicate it to interviewing. In this relation, it would be useful to start the surveying with logically correct questions that can be of much use for determination of the expected results of the research. In fact, it would be portrayed to participants as useful in the context of the high values of immigration that seem to be of the great actuality as it is one of the main problems of the United Kingdom in the recent years.

When applying the anthropological method, the survey with the questionnaires will be used and the people would be approached directly in the streets. Therefore, surveys should be concise and consistent, so that they can be useful and can be replied within 1-2 minutes of the valuable time.

The ready-to work questionnaire will include the following questions:

  1. What is your age, sex, race / ethnicity, education, smoking / drinking habits, marital / kids status, income? (This question will help to get familiar with social and economical background of people).
  2. What is your attitude towards legal / illegal immigration within the UK?
  3. What are your religious beliefs?

For the research, the following groups of people (age groups) will be chosen: participants in the age of 19-25; participants in the age of 45-55. This choice will help to make this research representative. In this relation, the background of this study will consist of the representative determinations of people who are in different ages and thus belong to different generations. In relevance to the research questions, they will help to find out how attitude towards immigration problem may vary with the age of people. For example, the aim of this research is to find out what the proportion is in the scale of interests throughout different generations in the attitude to the problem of immigration within the UK. The anthropological method will help to find out the relevance of this proportion towards the research groups.

When conducting the research, the following aspects will be useful in the long-term perspective: in-depth immersion; anonymity (private issues); equality in observation; consistency. The random approach will be used to provide an objective well-structured survey. The questions will be printed out on sheets of paper and then distributed among participants on the random basis. The interviewer will be positioned as the person who helps people to do some activity or just as a buyer in shop who sells out good offers. In such a way, the social role would be useful. People will be photographed only with their own consent. The interview will be conducted only in one time, without taking any break. It should be noted that regular interviewing would be more useful than casual conversations. In addition, some notes will be taken in a small notebook with assistance of the computer to organize answers. The variety of approaches will be provided with the assisted use of the AV equipment and sound recording technology. Naturally, the dynamics of the situation will be changed when the following details will be recorded: words, discourse, the unsaid; sensory & physical aspects; artefacts and social relations.

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Since the interviewing was applied as the useful determinant of the anthropological method with the approach to different generations, two groups by age were selected irrespectively of the other factors that could have been treated as significant within the scope of this research. Therefore, the following results by groups were obtained in relevance to two interview questions:

Age (group 19-25):

  1. What is your age, sex, race / ethnicity, education, smoking / drinking habits, marital / kids status, income?
    Sex: male (45%); female (55%);
    Race / ethnicity: white (71%), Hispanic (7%), Black (3%), Asian (19%);
  2. What is your attitude towards legal / illegal immigration within the UK?
    Negative (67%)
    Positive (17%)
    Neutral (13%)
    I don’t know (3%)
  3. What are your religious beliefs?
    Christian Catholics (55%);
    Christian Protestants (20%);
    Christian Orthodox (5%);
    Islam (10%);
    Buddhism (1%);
    Judaism (7%);
    Other (2%).

Age (group 45-55):

  1. What is your age, sex, race / ethnicity, education, smoking / drinking habits, marital / kids status, income?
    Sex: male (52%); female (48%);
    Race / ethnicity: white (75%), Hispanic (5%), Black (3%), Asian (17%);
  2. What is your attitude towards legal / illegal immigration within the UK?
    Negative (75%)
    Positive (14%)
    Neutral (10%)
    I don’t know (1%)
  3. What are your religious beliefs?
  4. Christian Catholics (65%);
    Christian Protestants (23%);
    Christian Orthodox (1%);
    Islam (5%);
    Buddhism (1%);
    Judaism (3%);
    Other (2%).

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Two groups were selected to conduct this research in relevance to questionnaire survey method that can be treated as representative and anthropological. When compared, these two groups were subdivided by age: participants in the age of 19-25; and participants in the age of 45-55. In overall, 100 participants took part in this questionnaire and were divided by groups by half. They were selected based on the age that they stated in their distributed sheets of paper with questions printed on one side of each sheet.

In relevance to the selected research questions for this research, the answers can be selected as significant:

  • Is British identity of young (19-25 years old) generation in specific location (London City Area) helps them to perceive immigrants differently, in comparison to the older generation (45-55)?

The attitude towards the immigration problem in the UK is different as per the data obtained by different generations living in London (particular location of research interest). For instance, young generation proved to be more tolerable to immigrants than the older generation: 67% of negative attitude vs. 75% of negative attitude. The less of the positive attitude to immigrants was expressed by older generation: 14% vs. 17% in younger generation. Generally, white raced representatives took part in this research, vs. other nationalities that took the less of the part. In this relation, relevantly, their religion appeared to be Christian in major, Catholics and Protestants. However, up to 20% of other nationalities expressed positive attitude towards immigrants for presumably, they positioned themselves as immigrants in their social roles.

  • Does religious beliefs and identity significant in some group’s view of national identity, if so, why?

In relation to this research question, the concept of British national identity is significant, in regard to religious background. The British national idea was more supported by Christian Catholics (55% vs. 65%) while Christian Protestants (20% vs. 23%) expressed more moderate idea of “Britishness”. The representatives of the other confessions and religious denominations voted for a more positive or rather neutral attitude towards immigration problem. For instance, among Buddhists and Muslims, there we could be able to find less extremists and radical behaviour towards immigrants. The reason is presumably the following: the major group of respondents was immigrants.

In relevance to this discussion and research questions that were posed alongside this research, Linda Colley’s view on the perspective of formation of the British nation can be accepted as valid. Colley (1992) was aware that Britain is the conglomerate of different views on national development as per different units that were struggling for their national development in parts of different communities including Ireland and Scotland. In this relation, these national units can be treated as truly substitutes to the concept of “Britishness”, removing the negative attitude towards this concept. Instead, the positive view on “Britishness” can be formulated by means of the accessible national identity that can be developed not by negative attitude towards immigrants but by the notion of promoting the British culture all across the globe.

In regard to the results and the discussion part of this research paper, it can be pointed out that the distinctive British national identity does exist. This problem was traced very well in relevance to the problem of immigration and attitude of Britons towards it. This research helped to find out that different age groups formulate different rates of negative attitude towards immigrants who are coming to the UK from various countries mostly including Asian countries. As far as they go, they bring different values to the UK that can be enormously competitive towards traditional English values and ways of conduct. For example, if British people are calm, got used to roast a toast in one side, making a cup of tea at 5 o’clock instead of coffee, then comparatively, immigrants tend to be more noisy living this life apart from the English traditions. This leads to contradiction between cultural backgrounds, and many of the English representatives are more likely to stand for their culture more than immigrants, up to the strengthening of “Britishness” as a national argument.

With respect to the results of this research, it is clear that the older generation (in the age of 45-55) is more likely to stand for the preserve traditional British culture in comparison with the younger generation (in the age of 19-25). The values are interchangeable between different generations, but they are all consistent in relevance to struggle for their values defending the British national identity from the foreign influence. The existence of the “Britishness” actually helps to preserve the values that can be treated as more general for the UK rather than particularly concrete. People love their homeland, both in the historical and customary aspects, so they are more likely to have negative attitude towards immigrants for they are treated as foreigners irrespectively of the legality of their rights to live within the United Kingdom. In this relation, immigrants may be treated very radically although they may have even legal rights to work and live in the UK. In such cases, their rights are more likely to be defended by the international human rights organizations.

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