Is Britishness changing?

By Charles Maggs

The definition of Britishness is changing to become more accommodating of minorities, according to academics from the University of Bristol and Brunel University.

Varun Uberoi and Tariq Modood suggested Labour and Conservative politicians have accepted that Britain is a more plural society, and even that a multi-ethnic society is itself part of British identity.

"During citizenship ceremonies new citizens pledge allegiance to the political features of Britain that were also equated with being British in a pamphlet to help them 'understand the culture' of their new country," they say.

"However, children now also learn about 'the changing nature of UK society, including the diversity of ideas, beliefs, cultures, identities, traditions, perspectives and values that are shared'."

In an apparent nod to David Cameron's 'big society' agenda, they argue British identity can never be a 'top down' entity, prescribed by government, rather that it is born organically by citizens as their interact with each other.

However they do suggest that there are state levers which can be pulled to make minorities more included in a broader national identity.

It suggests history lessons are more appealing to pupils from ethnic minorities when the history being taught relates to their own heritage, and that immigration and diversity should be taught.