Hierarchies, scale and privilege in the reproduction of national belonging

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It is increasingly recognised both that belonging divides hierarchically and that people have different capacities to be seen as belonging. However, while the existence of hierarchies of belonging is well documented from the perspective of ethnically minoritised and migrant groups, what characterises, produces, and underpins these hierarchies is largely unaddressed, as is a geographically informed analysis of their reproduction. This paper, based on interviews with white British people in the suburbs of London, takes a novel approach, examining the reproduction of national belonging among people for whom such belonging is relatively privileged. The paper identifies three constructions of national belonging within white British narratives – “belonging in Britain,” “belonging to Britain,” and “being of Britain” – and argues that, although not always recognised as such, the three constructions are hierarchical in their differing temporalities and connections to whiteness. The elucidation of these different belongings and, crucially, the recognition of their hierarchisation and scalar reproduction, represent major contributions to research on belonging, and also help to explain the exclusion from a full sense of national belonging articulated by British people of colour.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)95-108
JournalTransactions of the Institute of British Geographers
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 12 Aug 2019

Bibliographical note

Economic and Social Research Council. Grant Numbers: 1363516, ES/S010599/1


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