Chapter 11 in Modood, T., Salt, J. (eds) Global Migration, Ethnicity and Britishness, pp 225-247
In this chapter we examine orientations towards nation and country with sole reference to the ‘ethnic majority’ in England. Drawing on extensive qualitative interview data collected as part of the Leverhulme Programme, we examine the nuanced ways in which majority people orientate to concepts of nation, country and multiculturalism. We illustrate the linkages between these specific national sentiments and the broader context of change in British1 society, and changes in the life circumstances of our respondents as told in individual narratives. In doing so, we will argue that attitudes to ethnic or national identity and multicultural Britain are not traced solely through specific questions on those topics. These ideas, in themselves, we find to have little purchase amongst ‘ordinary’ people. We did ask respondents about ‘national identity’ and ‘Englishness’. But we also asked people about their work and neighbourhoods, their sense of opportunity, merit and reward, and what they thought of Britain as a place to live. These questions and their responses allowed us to contextualise peoples’ ‘national orientations’ within a wider set of social orientations to, for example, a sense of entitlement, security and stability in everyday life, and civility.