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Is It Possible To Speak Of An English Culture?

2167 words - 9 pages

What is it that defines "Englishness"? From creating empires, tea on the lawn, days at the races, keeping a stiff upper limit, Shakespeare, Queen Victoria, thatched country cottages to bingo; is this is a true reflection of Englishness or merely another contrived example of packaged heritage, harking back to an Englishness that perhaps never was. What signs are there today in the English nation of great traditions, empire building, and the pioneering spirit? If you are English how do you feel about being English in the new millennium? If you are not English what are your perceptions of Englishness? Do they differ from your perceptions before you arrived in England? With such a broad subject to cover the following areas need to be considered: The imagery of Englishness, the sound of Englishness and the language.What immediately springs to mind when considering "Englishness"? Ask most people and the response you are likely to get will be similar to the following list: cricket, patriotism, tea, class, public school, bowler hats, sexual repression and the village green. This list consists of things that are often considered to be typically English. However it does not apply to the majority of the population. It is old fashioned and male gendered, it is a constructed image. It does not take into account that 51% of the population is female. An image such as this is chosen for a reason rather than originating from any factual basis. It is a particular point of view, the dominant ideology of the ruling class. So in light of this the question to be asked is why do people who are not part of the dominant class take on these notions and feel proud to be English, especially when it is unlikely that they will ever become the person represented by the dominant ideology? The answer is tied in with Marxism i.e. ideas are generated by a small group of people with power, and power equals wealth. There is pressure on people to accept these ideas from the people who generate them, and it is their interests that are being served. Ideology is offered to the rest of society as if it were the natural order of things. Persuading them of this keeps the minority in power.In 1999 the Guardian newspaper marked the release of a new biography of Enoch Powell with a discussion between two MPs. One was elderly, right-wing, male and white, the other young, left-wing, female and black. The early exchanges were predictable. Then, the young black MP said she particularly resented Powell's assertion that however long immigrants lived here, they could never become British. Her colleague observed that this was a misquotation, Powell actually said they could never become English. She replied "Well, that's the same thing, isn't it?" and the discussion moved on. This leads into one of the more major problems in trying to define Englishness, as to a lot of people British/English has almost the same meaning. It is extremely difficult to pinpoint English nationalism mainly as the English...

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