This article explores suggestions made by the contemporary mainstream left in England that reinvigorated English national identities could be an important resource for constructing a progressive sense of social solidarity and community in England. Analysis of semi-structured qualitative interviews undertaken in a South London area finds that English identifiers do associate Englishness with a sense of social cooperation and community. However, for most participants, the expectations they have of Englishness are experienced as disrupted. Focusing on white participants’ accounts, the article demonstrates how such disruptions are crucially related to the discourses of ‘race’ and class that seem to underpin English identities and thus severely if not fatally undermine the progressive potential of English nationalism.
- national identity