National Identity, Popular Culture and Everyday Life

National Identity, Popular Culture and Everyday Life

Tim Edensor

Language: English

Pages: 224

ISBN: 1859735193

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


The Millennium Dome, Braveheart and Rolls Royce cars. How do cultural icons reproduce and transform a sense of national identity? How does national identity vary across time and space, how is it contested, and what has been the impact of globalization upon national identity and culture? This book examines how national identity is represented, performed, spatialized and materialized through popular culture and in everyday life. National identity is revealed to be inherent in the things we often take for granted from landscapes and eating habits, to tourism, cinema and music. Our specific experience of car ownership and motoring can enhance a sense of belonging, whilst Hollywood blockbusters and national exhibitions provide contexts for the ongoing, and often contested, process of national identity formation. These and a wealth of other cultural forms and practices are explored, with examples drawn from Scotland, the Uk as a whole, India and Mauritius. This book addresses the considerable neglect of popular cultures in recent studies of nationalism and contributes to debates on the relationship between 'high' and 'low' culture.

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attention to what are often asserted to be ‘key’ cultural similarities and differences, notably by distinguishing habits and everyday practices, and tastes in popular culture. But sometimes the treatment of ‘difference’ involves the selective incorporation of local, regional and other differences within the nation, a process whereby difference is represented as the variety inherent in unity. What is admitted into national belonging varies enormously, but it seems as if Western secular nations are

nation-state seems to be threatened by large, supra-national federations which organise around trade, social legislation and law (for instance, as with the European Community). Control over national economy and government is undoubtedly altered by such federations, and widespread fears about the demise of national political autonomy and culture arise. There is no room for a sustained analysis here, but I want to point out that it seems as if the spatial container of power here is expanding to

demonstrates how the organisation of these spaces of knowledge were devised to attain ‘new norms of public conduct’ (1995: 24). Performative conventions and normative choreographies were co-ordinated by attendants and spatially guided by the layout of display cases, information boards and room plans. Thus visitors performed a unidirectional passage along devised routes ‘to comply with a programme of organised walking which transformed any tendency to gaze into a highly directed and sequentialised

is useful in Smith’s approach. He does not make the mistake of homogenising elites, acknowledging that the selection of national symbols is frequently the source of much conflict between different powerful groups. Furthermore, he maintains that there is no blueprint for constructing an official culture. For instance, he distinguishes between ‘national’ intellectuals organising a ‘vernacular mobilisation’ or an aristocratic elite perpetrating ‘bureaucratic incorporation’ as different forms of

restricts car use, effectively disenfranchising a workless or low-paid class. More obviously, institutional racism causes Black male drivers to be disproportionately stopped by the police because of assumptions about the prevalence of black criminality. Unlike the exclusions marked by car association with an elite in Britain, in the USA ‘the car began life as a mass product, indeed it was the original mass product, and hence its symbolism is more complex and in many ways intertwined with the

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