The Politics of English Nationhood

ISBN : 9780199608614

Michael Kenny
320 Pages
162 x 242 mm
Pub date
Mar 2014
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The Politics of English Nationhood supplies the first comprehensive overview of the evidence, research and major arguments relating to the revival of Englishness, exploring its varied, and often overlooked, political ramifications and dimensions. It examines the difficulties which the major political parties have encountered in dealing with 'the English question' against the backdrop of the diminishing hold of established ideas of British government and national identity in the final years of the last century. And it explores a range of factors -including insecurities generated by economic change, Euroscepticism, and a growing sense of cultural anxiety - which helped make the renewal of Englishness appealing and imperative, prior to the introduction of devolution by the first Blair government, a policy which also gave this process a further impetus. The book therefore provides a powerful challenge to the two established orthodoxies in this area. These either maintain that the English are dispositionally unable to assert their own nationhood outside the framework of the British state, or point to the supposed resurgence of a resentful and reactive sense of English nationalism. This volume instead demonstrates that a renewed, resonant and internally divided sense of English nationhood is apparent across the lines of class, geography, age, and ethnicity. And it identifies several distinct strands of national identity that have emerged in this period, contrasting the appearance of populist and resentful forms of English nationalism with an embedded and deeply rooted sense of conservative Englishness and attempts to reconstruct a more liberal and civic idea of a multicultural England. This volume also includes a wide-ranging analysis of the culturally rooted revival of Englishness, drawing out the political dimensions and implications of this re-emerging form of national consciousness.


Introduction: England as an Imagined Community - Myths, Ideas and Politics
1. Crisis over Nationhood - the 1990s Reconsidered
2. Interpreting Englishness - Views from Right, Left and the British Centre
3. Englishness as a Mass Phenomenon - Evidence and Interpretation
4. The Cultural Politics of Englishness
5. Answering " - Party Politics, Public Policy and the Nationalist Fringe
6. Political Intimations of English Grievance - West Lothian and the Barnett Formula
Conclusions: Reconfiguring the Politics of English Nationhood

About the author: 

Michael Kenny is the recipient of a Major Research Fellowship awarded by the Leverhulme Trust, 2012-14. He has previously worked as Lecturer in Politics at Queen's University, Belfast, and was Professor, and Head of Department, in Politics at the University of Sheffield, and is currently a Research Associate at the Institute for Public Policy Research. He is a Professor of Politics at Queen Mary, University of London. He has published widely in the fields of modern political thought, political ideologies, the role of ideas in public policy, and is the author of The First New Left in Britain (1995) and The Politics of Identity (2004), and the joint editor of Rethinking British Decline (2000), The Idea of Global Civil Society (2004), The Oxford Handbook of British Politics (2009) and Reassessing New Labour (2011).

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