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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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Crisis over Nationhood

Crisis over Nationhood

The 1990s Reconsidered

(p.27) 1 Crisis over Nationhood
The Politics of English Nationhood

Michael Kenny

Oxford University Press

This chapter questions the conventional focus upon devolution as the primary cause of a renewal of English national identity. Instead it discusses a range of interlocking factors and dynamics which created the conditions for the re-emergence of Englishness prior to the introduction of these reforms. It highlights, in particular, the impact of the Euroscepticism of the early 1990s, the growing sense of anxiety generated by Britain’s changing political economy in this period, and diverging approaches to nationhood rooted in differences of social class. It also stresses the importance of intellectual shifts, not least the collapse of confidence in ideas of British exceptionalism in these years. This last trend fed into a broader, elite-level debate which crystallized an increasingly pessimistic outlook towards the UK state.

Keywords:   1990s, devolution, Euroscepticism, global economy, Whiggish, exceptionalism, Englishness

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