The Changing Face of British Identity

1. Introduction

The term British identity has been used in a variety of ways over the years. It is an important concept for understanding the history and cultures of the British Isles, but its meaning has been contested and continues to be negotiated in contemporary society. There is no one single definition of British identity, but there are some common themes that have emerged in academic and popular debates.

2. British identity of no relevance in modern Britain?

Some people argue that British identity is no longer relevant in modern Britain. In a post-imperial and post-colonial world, they say, there is no need for a separate British identity. This view is often connected to a more general criticism of nationalism and national identities, which are seen as artificial constructs that serve to divide rather than unite people.

Others argue that British identity is more relevant than ever in contemporary Britain. In an era of globalisation and multiculturalism, they say, it is important to have a strong sense of national identity. This view is often connected to a more general celebration of nationalism and national identities, which are seen as positive expressions of community and belonging.

3. British identity has been in existence for a long time

It is important to remember that British identity has been in existence for a long time, and it has been constructed over many centuries. Even before the formation of the United Kingdom in 1801, there was already a sense of English, Scottish, Welsh and Irish identities. These were not always separate or exclusive identities; there was considerable overlap and interaction between them. But they were all part of what we would now recognise as Britishness.

4. British identity has been constructed historically

Britishness is not something that has always existed; it is something that has been constructed over time. This process has been driven by various factors, including political developments, economic changes, social trends and cultural influences. Different periods in history have seen different conceptions of Britishness emerge.

The late 18th century and early 19th century saw the development of an idea of Britishness that was closely bound up with notions of liberty, democracy and progress. This was the era of the French Revolution and the Napoleonic Wars, when many people came to see Britain as a haven of freedom and stability in a turbulent world. The mid-19th century saw the rise of Victorian values such as duty, respectability and self-control, which came to be seen as quintessentially British. The late 19th century and early 20th century saw a growing emphasis on Empire and racial superiority, as well as on traditional values such as hierarchy and deference. These ideas continued to shape ideas about Britishness throughout the 20th century.

In conclusion, it can be said that there cannot be a declining British identity if it never existed in the first place.British identity has been in existence for a long time having being constructed historically. It would only make sense for their to be a crisis if one were to exist. However, this does not seem to be the case as recent events such Tony Blair becoming Prime Minister or David Cameron speaking about the “Scottish Question” suggest otherwise. The fact that both politicians needed invoke notions of race, culture, language, history or religion when discussing what it means to be


The key components of British identity include a shared history, culture, and values.

British identity has changed over time as the country has become more diverse and inclusive.

There is still a place for British identity in modern Britain, but it is not as exclusive as it once was.