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The Politics of English Nationhood$
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Michael Kenny

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780199608614

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: April 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199608614.001.0001

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Interpreting Englishness

Interpreting Englishness

Views from Right, Left, and the British Centre

Chapter:
(p.50) 2 Interpreting Englishness
Source:
The Politics of English Nationhood
Author(s):

Michael Kenny

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199608614.003.0003

Chapter 2 focuses attention upon three of the leading political interpretations of Englishness. It considers, first, the argument — favoured by many progressives, and associated particularly with the ideas of Tom Nairn — that the English lack a modern, democratic sense of nationhood and are increasingly bewildered and resentful as Britain begins to break up. Krishan Kumar’s important addition to, and break from, this perspective is also examined in some depth. It then turns to those accounts of Englishness which see the return of an arcane and continuous sense of nationhood, focusing especially on the work of Roger Scruton. And it finishes by considering attempts by a number of intellectuals — notably Arthur Aughey — to revive aspects of ‘the British tradition’ of national and constitutional thinking. Noting the merits and influence of each of these perspectives, the chapter concludes that each is as much challenged as affirmed by recent trends in English national identity.

Keywords:   progressive, break-up of Britain, Powellite, Conservative, nationalism, British tradition, Liberal constitutionalism

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