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Flagging nations? Exploring the banality of national discourse through a study of everyday talk and media texts in England.

Skey, Michael (2008) Flagging nations? Exploring the banality of national discourse through a study of everyday talk and media texts in England. PhD thesis, London School of Economics and Political Science.

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This study explores the banality of national discourse in England in an era that has been described as globalising. Drawing on the broader tenets of social constructionism, the concept of sedimentation will be employed as a means of understanding how certain discourses come to be embedded in the everyday lives of significant numbers in relation to particular historical conditions. This framework will be used to extend Michael Billig's seminal thesis of Banal Nationalism (1995) in an effort to address the complexities of a multi-national, post-imperial society. The primary data set comes from a series of interviews with white, English-born people, who constitute the majority group in Britain. Various media texts have also been studied as a means of tracking any relevant debates at another level of society. The analysis suggests that national discourse continues to offer a 'common sense' heuristic within social interactions, informing manifold ways in which people articulate their lives. The resonance of this discourse is exhibited through a whole range of micro-linguistic and inter-textual features, underpinned by a framework of shared knowledge and assumptions. This framework was particularly evident when people discussed issues such as immigration and multiculturalism, which were generally evaluated as threats to a homogeneous and bounded national space. In these cases, distinctions were made between those who un/conditionally belonged to the nation, with various minority groups often stigmatised as internal 'Others' and seen to be destabilising everyday (national) practices, utterances and symbols. The growing sense of ontological insecurity generated by these perceived threats is also thought to partly underlie the increasing visibility of national displays within England at the current time. Finally, while increasing global mobility may sometimes pose a challenge to national frameworks, I suggest that any movement beyond the nation, whether cognitive and/or physical, is better conceptualised as a form of conditional cosmopolitanism, often underpinned by a secure sense of 'home', agency and access to cultural / economic capital.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Uncontrolled Keywords: Speech Communication
Sets: Collections > ProQuest Etheses
Departments > Media and Communications

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