National identity should be sharply distinguished from nationalism. People speak by reference to a general and assumed membership of a country, and routine markers of behaviour and style may exhibit this sense of membership. This matter-of-fact acceptance of 'national' membership does not guarantee enthusiasm for the 'nation' and it cannot be taken as a signal of nationalism, banal or otherwise. Whilst theoretical statements and assumptions often suggest that national identity is fundamental to individuals in contemporary societies, empirical investigation of people talking about national identity uncovers some broad strands of indifference and hostility towards national identity in general or towards British and English identities in particular. This may reflect young adults' wish not to appear 'nationalist' just as many would wish not to appear racist. But the level of apathy and antagonism towards national identity among young adults suggest we ought to reconsider any assumption that national identity is 'normally' a powerful and important marker, embraced with enthusiasm.
|Translated title of the contribution||Indifference towards national identity: what young adults think about being English and British|
|Pages (from-to)||321 - 339|
|Number of pages||19|
|Journal||Nations and Nationalism|
|Publication status||Published - May 2007|
Bibliographical notePublisher: Blackwell
- SPAIS Centre for the Study of Ethnicity and Citizenship