Public conceptions and constructions of 'British values': A qualitative analysis

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Abstract

This article draws on original focus group research to explore constructions of ‘British values’, in ‘everyday’ discourse. Two prominent, yet competing, conceptions of this term are identified: political/institutional and social/cultural. Although each of these conceptions risks essentialising ‘British values’, this risk is mitigated by publics in at least three ways: (i) explicit recognition of the term’s ambiguities; (ii) discussion of its political motivations and exclusionary outcomes; and, (iii) identification of qualitative change in the meaning of ‘British values’ over time. As the first exploration of public understandings of this term, their differences, and these complications, the paper offers three contributions: (i) adding breadth to existing studies of everyday nationalism through focus on ‘British values’ specifically; (ii) shedding light on this trope’s work in broader conversations around social and political life in the UK; and (iii) facilitating reflection on the reception of, resistance to, and re-making of elite political discourse.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)85-101
Number of pages17
JournalBritish Journal of Politics & International Relations
Volume22
Issue number1
Early online date6 Sep 2019
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2020

Keywords

  • BANAL NATIONALISM
  • British values
  • CITIZENSHIP
  • CRITICAL ENGAGEMENT
  • DISCOURSE
  • ENGLISH
  • EVERYDAY NARRATIVES
  • IDENTITY
  • INTERNATIONAL-RELATIONS
  • POLITICS
  • SECURITY
  • discourse
  • everyday
  • focus groups
  • national identity
  • nationalism

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