British Identity On A Shared Culture Sociology Essay Essay

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The construct of individuality has both personal and societal positions but, irrespective of focal point, each is concerned with classification and premises of similarity and difference. Social individuality relates to the links that exist between people and topographic points, the thoughts and patterns that align persons to one societal group as opposed to another and the feeling of credence and belonging which comes from such commitment.

Great Britain consists of a group of single states: England, Wales and Scotland, each of which joined the brotherhood at different points in a disruptive history. Northern Ireland, whilst portion of the United Kingdom, is non portion of Great Britain despite its population being included in the British political procedure. In malice of these confusing, seemingly across-the-board rubrics, each single state retains a separate individuality in add-on to the corporate 1s conferred by the UK and GB acronyms.

Historically, English laterality of the brotherhood has been a beginning of contention and in recent old ages the single individualities of Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland have become more officially recognised by the acceptance of a partly devolved political procedure for the former two and a power sharing understanding with the Irish Republic for the latter. The virtues or defects of degeneration autumn outside the range of this essay, however, it could be argued that at a clip when the really impression of Britishness is up for argument, dividing the brotherhood, even if merely for political intents, will make nil to beef up a corporate sense of national individuality if, in fact, one of all time genuinely existed.

Diversity amongst the single states of the United Kingdom is merely one portion of the narrative and despite being an island and therefore holding an easy recognizable boundary line, the range of Britain extends good beyond geographical bounds. Great Britain ‘s imperium edifice yesteryear has left a web of connexions that span the universe. The British Empire at its tallness covered a one-fourth of the Earth, and whilst many former settlements, dependences and associated states have since regained independency, the history of a British presence in parts of South Asia, Africa and the Caribbean left a postcolonial bequest of citizenship rights which has contributed to the multi-cultural, multiethnic society that exists in Britain today.

Whether because of commercialism or conquering, as an flight from poorness or persecution, Britain ‘s population comprises a diverse aggregation of people, some of whom may hold connexions to and, hence, place with topographic points other than the British Isles. Who we are and who others think we are has a batch to make with where we live and our beginnings, but it takes much more than territorial boundary lines to specify national individuality.

It is about impossible to state precisely what British individuality is or should be in the twenty-first century and as a consequence the really thought of Britishness “ has been the beginning of much anxiousness, uncertainness and political argument in recent old ages ” ( Clarke, 2009, P. 210 ) . From politicians to societal observers, newspaper editors to faculty members, all have suggested ways in which the significance of Britishness could be constructed and fixed.

Amongst other things, Clarke suggests that British national individuality may intend holding a sense of topographic point, a shared manner of life, a common history and a recognized image of race or ethnicity ( 2009, p. 219 ) , but in visible radiation of the diverse nature of Britain ‘s population some of his suggestions seem more plausible than others. A sense of topographic point can merely come from a feeling of credence and belonging, difficult to accomplish when even after three coevalss of British citizenship your community is still viewed with intuition and bitterness. The thought of a common history may non sit good with everyone, particularly those whose ascendants were the topic of domination, subjugation and development. A recognized image of race or ethnicity implies a remarkable acknowledgment, all right if your tegument is the ‘right ‘ coloring material, but at hazard from favoritism if it is non, statute law can protect but it can non alter attitudes. Even though a shared manner of life seems to be a sensible suggestion, cultural differences make this every bit hard to conceive of.

Culture, harmonizing to Clarke, has at least two significances ( 2009, p. 219 ) . The first suggested reading is what he calls ‘high civilization ‘ ; this includes art, literature, theater and music. Writers such as Shakespeare, Austen and Dickens, artists such as Turner and Constable and composers such as Elgar all purportedly provide an “ seemingly shared set of mention points ” with which all British people can place ( 2009, p. 221 ) . However, Clarke besides notes that the stressed importance of English names in the list of preferable cultural icons excludes non merely those members of British society whose beginnings, whether existent or imagined, lie outside its geographical bounds, but those from other parts of the UK excessively. Raymond Williams ( 1958, cited in Clarke, 2009, p. 219 ) calls this a ‘selective tradition ‘ . Therefore, to propose the usage of British high civilization as a consolidative tool is to except a big subdivision of society to whom it is likely irrelevant and possibly even unintelligible.

Clarke ‘s suggestion of a shared manner of life besides falls under the cultural streamer. Normal mundane patterns of life such as frock, nutrient, imposts and spiritual observation are all of import in specifying the significance of civilization. Common signifiers of behavior, values, ethical motives and moralss are of import in a shared manner of life but instantly this highlights some jobs. Religious and cultural differences, for illustration, may do behavior considered acceptable to people in one community wholly unacceptable to those of another. Not all diverseness is needfully cultural or spiritual, nevertheless, and age, gender, societal background and political differences can all split every bit good as unite.

Having established the trouble in accepting shared civilization as a agency of specifying British individuality, the thought of shared values has been suggested by both David Blunkett and Trevor Phillips. Mr. Blunkett, former UK Home Secretary, suggested that “ Britishness is defined aˆ¦ through our shared values, our history of tolerance, of openness ” ( 2005, cited in Clarke, 2009, P. 221 ) . Trevor Phillips, former Chairman of the Commission for Racial Equality, besides suggested that “ Britishness aˆ¦ lies in a manner of populating aˆ¦ In a diverse society, the shared values are the cardinal gum that holds us together ; and the manner we behave towards each other is the outward manifestation of our values. ” ( 2007, cited in Clarke, 2009, PP. 222-223 ) . Both these statements, whilst evidently good intend, make non stand up to scrutiny. To propose that the British people are tolerant and unfastened is to deny history. Possibly Blunkett and Phillips are merely saying how they would wish people to believe and move, in which instance their statement will probably fall on many deaf ears!

For Blunkett and Phillips diverseness is a positive thing, something to encompass and observe. They suggest that merely through tolerance and openness to diverseness can Britain derive a consolidative sense of individuality. Their positions have been contested, nevertheless, and statements denouncing the credence and encouragement of diverseness have been every bit outstanding. David Goodhart, a magazine editor, has suggested that increasing diverseness in Britain has caused us to go a state of aliens. He besides suggests, “ As Britain becomes more diverse that common civilization is being eroded ” ( 2004, cited in Clarke, 2009, pp225-226 ) . Whatever ‘common civilization ‘ he happens to be mentioning to ; he suggests that its loss is taking to a deficiency of solidarity and societal coherence. His sentiment, unlike that of Blunkett and Phillips, nevertheless, does non transport the weight of authorization since it is a personal sentiment expressed in a magazine article.

In complete contrast to Goodhart, Bhikhu Parekh, in a study for the Runnymeade Trust, suggests that diverseness and corporate national individuality need non be reciprocally sole. Whilst admiting the hazard of societal atomization and racism, Parekh suggests that if all members of society feel every bit valued, have entree to equal chances, lead fulfilling lives and shoulder the load of social duty that it may be possible to develop a “ shared individuality and common sense of belonging ” ( 2000, cited in Clarke, 2009, pp. 226-227 ) .

In a diverse society, hence, the construct of national individuality should be across-the-board ; clearly, this can non depend on a shared civilization. Furthermore, merely stating people how to believe or act will non alter attitudes nor do them experience united. Ultimately, possibly economic and societal equality will take to a incorporate intent and sense of corporate individuality – or possibly non, this is clearly a complex inquiry without a individual reply.

( 1500 words )

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