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Embodying Britishness: national identity in the United Kingdom


Tranter, B and Donoghue, J, Embodying Britishness: national identity in the United Kingdom, Nations and Nationalism, 27, (4) pp. 992-1008. ISSN 1354-5078 (2021) [Refereed Article]

Copyright Statement

© 2021 Association for the Study of Ethnicity and Nationalism and John Wiley & Sons Ltd

DOI: doi:10.1111/nana.12730


Some argue that national identity is constructed from the shared myths and ‘collective memories’ of a nation, where heroes from a ‘golden age’ and legendary figures embody national identity. However, when a national sample of British adults were asked to name the most important Britons, living or dead, they did not hark back to legendary figures, military leaders or sporting heroes, but identified their monarch, political leaders, and to a lesser extent, ‘household heroes’ within their own family. ‘Banal’, quotidian political leaders and Queen Elizabeth II symbolise national identity in Britain, although they sit alongside ‘hot’ signifiers of nationalism personified, such as football hero David Beckham. This research suggests that studies of national identity should not be limited to examining essentialist claims of ethnonationalism, or civic attachments to laws and institutions, but also explore those whom the citizens of a given country identify as embodying their national identity.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:banal nationalism, British, embodiment, national identity, Scottish, sporting heroes
Research Division:Human Society
Research Group:Sociology
Research Field:Sociology not elsewhere classified
Objective Division:Expanding Knowledge
Objective Group:Expanding knowledge
Objective Field:Expanding knowledge in human society
UTAS Author:Tranter, B (Professor Bruce Tranter)
UTAS Author:Donoghue, J (Dr Jed Donoghue)
ID Code:143872
Year Published:2021
Deposited By:Office of the School of Social Sciences
Deposited On:2021-04-08
Last Modified:2022-08-29

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