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The Politics of English Nationhood


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Winner: W. J. M. Mackenzie Book Prize

Table of Contents

Introduction: England as an Imagined Community - Myths, Ideas and Politics 1: Crisis over Nationhood - the 1990s Reconsidered 2: Interpreting Englishness - Views from Right, Left and the British Centre 3: Englishness as a Mass Phenomenon -- Evidence and Interpretation 4: The Cultural Politics of Englishness 5: Answering "the English Question " - Party Politics, Public Policy and the Nationalist Fringe 6: Political Intimations of English Grievance - West Lothian and the Barnett Formula Conclusions: Reconfiguring the Politics of English Nationhood

About the Author

Michael Kenny is the recipient of a Major Research Fellowship awarded by the Leverhulme Trust, 2012-14. He has previously worked as Lecturer in Politics at Queen's University, Belfast, and was Professor, and Head of Department, in Politics at the University of Sheffield, and is currently a Research Associate at the Institute for Public Policy Research. He is a Professor of Politics at Queen Mary, University of London. He has published widely in the fields of modern political thought, political ideologies, the role of ideas in public policy, and is the author of The First New Left in Britain (1995) and The Politics of Identity (2004), and the joint editor of Rethinking British Decline (2000), The Idea of Global Civil Society (2004), The Oxford Handbook of British Politics (2009) and Reassessing New Labour (2011).


`The Politics of English Nationhood is an important book in the context of an uncertain English national future, and one that will appeal both a specialist audience and undergraduates on a variety of degree courses. ' Samy Pryke, Nations/Nationalism `Kenny succeeds in bringing clarity to a notoriously muddled and woolly area . . . The book is not only fascinating for specialists in the field, but can also be recommended to anyone who is new to the debate, because it does not assume prior knowledge . . . This is a wonderful book, containing much both to challenge and to cheer. It is a calming, balanced approach to the current debate, deflating the lazy false dichotomies that have been peddled by the broadsheets. It is, in fact, the book we have been missing, and it dramatically realigns the parameters of a debate that has for too long been governed by negative emotions, especially by metropolitan English self-dread.' Isabel Taylor, Albion magazine Online `A welcome and timely effort to think about what England after the Union might end up looking like.' Mark Perryman, Philosophy Football `To what extent has there been a rise in English nationalism in recent years? What is its character, and its possible causes? Michael Kenny's subtle and suggestive study is unusual in stressing the importance of political traditions and ideologies, to complement the usual cultural analyses, in explaining recent developments. He draws upon a mass of recent survey research and combines this skilfully with historical and cultural accounts to conduct a thoughtful and illuminating inquiry that will be a major contribution to current debates about the future of the United Kingdom.' Krishan Kumar, University of Virginia `The English have often been confused about who they really are. In this major new study Michael Kenny provides an eloquent and nuanced account of the idea of Englishness, drawing on a wide range of sources and perspectives. He gives a compelling and absorbing analysis of the complex meanings of Englishness and how they relate to politics.' Andrew Gamble, University of Cambridge `Michael Kenny's The Politics of English Nationhood is a deserving winner of this year's WJM MacKenzie Book Prize. In a timely and insightful account, this book addresses the many confusions that exist concerning Englishness providing a nuanced and informative examination of why a myriad of complex meanings have arisen and how 'the English question' should be understood. The book claims it offers 'a powerful challenge' to prevailing orthodoxies - this is does, but it also reconstructs a more liberal and civic idea of multicultural England drawing on its political dimensions. An impressive piece of research with potentially far reaching impact on how we should think about a fundamental issue in contemporary politics.' Commendation from the jury for the WJM MacKenzie Prize for best book of 2014 by the Political Studies Association `Kenny recognizes the potential for right-wing populist English nationalism but stresses also the progressive tradition and sees Englishness as potentially positive, as long as it is not left to the extremists. In this he echoes calls from the English left to embrace Englishness while warning against efforts to force it. This is a sophisticated and historically rich analysis and a welcome counter-balance to some of the more simplistic writing about the English question.' Michael Keating, University of Aberdeen

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