Understanding National Identity, David McCrone and Frank Bechhofer, Cambridge University Press, January/February 2015
While there is much scholarly debate about ‘nations’ and ‘nationalism’, comparatively little has been written explicitly on ‘national identity’ and even less is solidly evidence based. The book is based on twenty years’ empirical research in England and Scotland, the two founding countries of the UK created by a treaty of union in 1707, by two sociologists instrumental in establishing the MSc in Nationalism Studies at Edinburgh.
The United Kingdom provides an excellent test-bed for studying national identity, a key concept in its own right. On the one hand, people are defined as ‘British citizens’ holding the appropriate passport. On the other hand, they are ‘nationals’ of the four constituent nations which currently comprise the British state. This distinction and the tension between ‘citizens’ and ‘nationals’ provides the opportunity to understand how people ‘do’ national identity, in particular, by examining their behaviours and attitudes, and what, if anything, is ‘political’ about it.