Based on fine-grained ethnographic research in an English city, this book offers a highly original perspective on England’s contemporary political predicament. It argues that some of the most influential academic accounts of the country's current political situation, particularly those focusing on culture or racism, have neglected the key role of nationalism as an often unspoken, banal political principle and framing ideology. Suggesting that economic inequalities remain the key causal ingredient of English political life and, crucially, that these are being interpreted by individuals in relation to a nationalist/cosmopolitan ideological axis, the author argues that any effective, progressive political future will require a reinvigorated sense of political community. Proposing a politics that will promote both nationhood and cosmopolitanism, Nationalism, Inequality and England’s Political Predicament advocates a seemingly contradictory but necessary approach by which explicitly anti-nationalist and anti-racist principles coexist expediently alongside short-term protectionist and immigration control policies.
‘Much recent scholarship has attempted to explain the rise of populist and nativist politics through one of two dominant paradigms: the cultural backlash thesis and the resistance to the neo-liberal globalization argument… As Leddy-Owen convincingly shows in this insightful book such macro-structural explanations cannot capture the complexities and differences of micro-worlds … In theoretical terms [Nationalism, Inequality and England’s Political Predicament] challenges both the political science perspectives on populism and the sociological literature on racism as neither of these two strands of scholarship engage adequately with the vast literature on nationalism … This is a very valuable book that successfully combines a coherent theoretical argument with in-depth empirical analysis. Leddy-Owen shows convincingly that any attempt to explain "England’s political predicament" has to move away from the narrow focus on identities and grievances and centre the attention towards the role of the state in creating, maintaining and reproducing nationalist discourses. Furthermore, this contribution clearly indicates that nationalism is not only a powerful but also a highly malleable political force that is framed and utilized differently by different political agents and different social strata and as such cannot be captured fully or adequately through the traditional quantitative surveys.' - Siniša Maleševic, University College Dublin, Ireland; Author of Grounded Nationalisms.
'I found the book very well-grounded in relevant and rich scholarship… [It] is a compelling study which brings additional insights into the ways nation and nationalism are mobilised to make sense of the ‘we’ of politics. Leddy-Owen’s final comments point to a world where nations no longer would be the dominant enframing political principle and a cosmopolitan commitment to universalist principles of equality prevail.' - Marco Antonsich, Loughborough University, UK
Introduction: explaining England’s political predicament 1. Contemporary nationalist politics in England: inequalities, culture and racism 2. Researching nationhood, nationalism and politics 3. Feeling overlooked: economic precariousness and political outlooks 4. Nationalist politics among the overlooked 5. Affluence, politics and place 6. Nationalism, cosmopolitanism and nationscepticism among the more affluent and mobile 7. Conclusion: nationhood, cosmopolitanism and England’s political future Appendix 1: Interview guide Appendix 2: Guide to the study’s interview participants