This debate on the 25th March looks interesting:
Class has traditionally shaped the identity in the UK, but does faith now predominate? It is certainly the case that politicians, academics and popular media now focus more on the latter.
This debate raises this pivotal question at a time when the UK public is about to decide on its next government and thus make important choices about who best reflects and appeals to their increasingly complex and diverse senses of identity. At such times, we first need to reflect on who we are and what primarily defines us and drives our choices…
To register, please e-mail rsvp.events[at]britishcouncil.org by 20th March.
Class has certainly played a part in shaping some people’s identities, but, as with so many issues, how do you define it? When does someone move from being working class to middle class, or upper class, or vice versa? What tips the balance- wealth, income, job, connections, location, mentality, race or something else?
I don’t doubt that faith (or rather religion) has re-emerged as a more important issue than it was before. Centuries ago religion was one of the most, if not the most, important issue in this country. Men and women were prepared to die for their beliefs, laws were put in place to both help and hinder religious minorities, and a change in your faith might turn you from a community leader to a community outcast (or, as Alexandra Walsham has shown, it might not). By the end of the 19th century though, religion on the British mainland (i.e. excluding Ireland) mattered a lot less, with the non-conformist test acts repealed and the introduction of Roman Catholic emancipation. The gradual post-war drift away from organised Christian worship merely exacerbated this.
It is only in the last ten years or so that religion has remerged as a really noticeable feature of political debate, thanks in part to terrorism and the influx of people from more religious societies. The internet too has helped to spread information. Yet has this identity become more important than class? Can we generalise? Iâ€™m not sure.
You need to book your place today for the debate next week.
(Hat-Tip: Jai and BMSD)
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Filed in: British Identity,Current affairs,History