National Identity and
Anthony Heath, John Curtice, Lindsey Jarvis
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Through survey research in 2001 and 2003, this project will study how national and regional identities and attitudes towards the political system evolve in England after the introduction of devolved arrangements in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland and as new decentralised structures are established in the English regions. The project is one of a linked and comparative suite of projects in the Programme which also explore national identity and constitutional change in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
Devolution is the most popular constitutional option in Northern Ireland
- Devolution as yet lacks strong support in England, even in northern regions (though the English are supportive of devolution for the other parts of the UK)
- There is clear support for further-reaching devolution in Wales
- In Scotland the unpopularity of the current administration has not dented continuing strong support for devolution
- In principle devolution is, in sum, widely considered around the UK to be legitimate.
Substantial decision-making powers are now devolved to new institutions in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. In England, decentralising reforms have been much more modest, though there is the prospect of a further-reaching regionalisation process during the second term of the Blair government. In these circumstances potent questions are raised about the attitudes of the English to region and nation, and to the adequacy of current constitutional arrangements for England.
A complicating factor arising from previous survey research is that in England many respondents have considerable difficulty in distinguishing 'English' from 'British' and tend to treat the two as interchangeable.
• Will the new constitutional arrangements for Scotland and Wales reduce the salience of 'Britishness' and increase that of 'Englishness', perhaps leading to a resurgence of English nationalism?
• Or will local, regional or even European identities take up any slack that is left by the decline of Britishness?
• And what impact will such developments have on the sense of legitimacy of arrangements for the governance of England or on demands for changes in the regions, or cities, or indeed in the Westminster parliament?
The main aim of the project is to study the evolution of local, regional, national and supranational identities in England following devolution in the other territories of the UK.
• Carry out surveys in 2001 and 2003 designed to explore whether people in England think of themselves as English or British and the kinds of criteria that they use in making this distinction.
• Ascertain people's views about the current constitutional arrangements for England, about the evolving relationships between England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, and about the costs and benefits of constitutional change.
• Explore the contention that recent generations have a weaker sense of Britishness than older generations who remember the British Empire and the Second World War, and evaluate competing theories - institutional, postmodernisation and globalisation - which may account for generational change
• Coordinate the survey research with parallel studies in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland so that rigorous comparative analysis across the UK's territories may be carried out.
The design of survey questionnaires is integrated with that for the other surveys in the Programme on Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland to achieve the objective of rigorous comparison while also allowing for a number of England-specific items. The questionnaires will be fielded in both 2001 and 2003 - to allow for exploration of change over time - as modules in the British Social Attitudes survey. The BSA is a nationally representative probability sample based on the Postcode Address File sampling frame and is identical methodologically and technically to the parallel surveys on Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland
** Additional Funding **
The project secured additional funding from ESRC to boost the size of the survey in 2001 to one which would return adequate sample sizes for rigorous statistical analysis in the English regions. This supplement is designed to allow the project to capture some of the dynamics released by the intensification of the debate on setting up directly elected assemblies in the English regions.
Professsor Anthony Heath
Department of Sociology
University of Oxford
OXFORD OX1 1PS
Tel: 01865 278830
Professor John Curtice
Department of Government
University of Strathclyde
Ms Lindsey Jarvis
Department of Social Science
Department of Sociology
University of Oxford
|Duration of Project:
||1 January 2001 - 31 December 2004
|Amount of Award:
|ERSC Project Number:
L219 25 2018