Diamond Jubilee marks 'year of Britishness'

The Queen's Diamond Jubilee and the London Olympics mean that 2012 promises to be “the year of Britishness”, says Society Fellow Professor Dominic Abrams.

“Athletes from all of the British countries,” he continues, “will be represented under the British flag at the Olympics, and British identity will be emphasised in the celebrations of the Jubilee too.”

Those celebrations will include the Thames Diamond Jubilee Pageant – a 1000-boat flotilla sailing from Putney to Tower Bridge on Sunday 3 June. This event is billed as reflecting the UK's maritime heritage and will include historic vessels, steam boats and Dunkirk little ships. The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh will take part in a red and gold barge.

“At the same time,” says Professor Abrams, “the pound is constantly being contrasted with the Euro and by implication Britain against the whole of Europe.”

He adds:

“As the original ideas of the American psychologist Donald Campbell and much recent work on 'entitativity' indicate, all of these factors reinforce the idea of Britain as a coherent psychological entity - the proximity, the common fate, similarity and interconnectedness of countries within Britain.”

“It is not surprising that Alex Salmond has placed the referendum on Scottish independence as far away from the Jubille and as close to the next General Election as possible – in August 2014,. By then, he may hope, the idea of Britain as a single entity will be less powerful, and challenges and criticisms of the UK government will be sharper, enabling the SNP to make a stronger distinction between Scottish interests and identity and those of the rest of Britain.”

Professor Abrams and Peter Grant have recently contributed articles that looking at Scottish identity and possible independence to the New Scientist and the British Journal of Social Psychology.