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This chapter discusses the concept of the nation first in general terms and then in relation to the nations of the United Kingdom (UK). The United Kingdom has great difficulty in being identified as a 'nation-state'. For most of its people there are two competing 'national' identities: 'British', associated with the UK, and 'English', 'Welsh', 'Scottish', and in Northern Ireland 'Loyalist British' and 'Irish'. The problem of nation and national identity can be investigated through a study of Northern Ireland, where issues of national and state identity have contributed to the political crisis. The chapter focuses on some features associated with the nation, identifying cultural and political aspects of nationhood: nation and state; race and nation; language and the nation; religion and national identity; government and nation; common historical and cultural ties; and a sense of 'nationhood'.

in Understanding political ideas and movements
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This chapter distinguishes a number of varieties of nationalism: liberal, reactionary and radical. It provides a brief history of nationalism from the pre-Renaissance period to the twentieth century. Then the psychological appeal of nationalism is examined, as is its impact on international politics, and on empires and multi-national states. The chapter considers the elements of nationalism: sovereignty of the people; ethnic nationalism and civic nationalism. It identifies a number of stages in the development of nationalism: proto-nationalism; early modern nationalism; nationalism in the age of revolutions; twentieth-century nationalism; and post-Cold War nationalism. The chapter also considers whether nationalism as an ideology serves particular political interests. Nationalism can fulfil a number of political functions such as promoting social change, creating social cohesion, or strengthening the hold of the ruling class. The chapter offers a critique of nationalism and some reflections on its possible future.

in Understanding political ideas and movements

This chapter is about national ties and how they are supposed to act as a glue that holds the state together in the eyes of its citizens. A nation-state is one where all the people in the state are bound together by ties of national solidarity. Nationalists argue that solidarity derived from 'thin' concepts like 'justice' and 'utility' cannot bind people to their states. Conceptually, the sources of solidarity have either derived from the ideas of ethnicity or of civic unity. The questions provoked by the attempts to redeem civic nationalism concern the coherence and practicality of civic solidarity. Some contemporary political theorists regard nationalism as an anachronistic vestige of less enlightened times or as a distraction from the real issues of politics. The rise of ethnic nationalism and of imperialist racialism led to the sidelining in the more established nation-states of the republican traditions associated with civic nationalism.

in Political concepts

This chapter examines the latest theoretical trends and the two treaty revisions that occurred during the mid-1980s and early 1990s, introducing the Single European Act and the Treaty on European Union (TEU), which resulted from the treaty revisions, and neofunctionalism, which re-emerged as the leading theory of European integration. The next part studies the state of theorising European integration in the 1990s in relation to the constitutional and political physiognomy of the Maastricht Treaty. The final part of the chapter focuses on the new theoretical approaches, which include the fusion thesis and new institutionalism.

in Theory and reform in the European Union

This chapter analyses the content and evaluates the significance of the discourse of 'the Third Way', disseminated by the New Labour Government. At the heart of New Labour's Third Way is the claim that economic efficiency and social justice can be symbiotic. The chapter argues that the articulation of a particular concept of citizenship is a crucial element of the framework that New Labour believes is necessary in order to achieve this. During 1995 there was an important development in Tony Blair's articulation of a concept of citizenship. Anthony Giddens's work has been utilised by Blair as support from a prominent member of the academy for positions that Blair had already established, rather than being an influence shaping new approaches. The chapter argues that 'stakeholding' was utilised as a brand name for its agenda until it was dropped because of its policy implications.

in The Third Way and beyond
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Welfare reform and the ‘Third Way’ politics of New Labour and the New Democrats

This chapter examines whether a policy strategy based on social exclusion and pushing 'work first' can sustain a commitment to egalitarian social democratic values. It argues that there are important social democratic elements in New Labour policy which cast doubt on a straightforward 'neo-liberal convergence' thesis. The chapter also examines whether the Government's welfare-to-work programme is undermining Labour's commitment to social justice. In government, Labour's welfare-to-work programme has been the centrepiece of the welfare reform drive and of Labour's attempt to mark out a new 'Third Way' for the Centre-Left. Welfare politics in the twentieth century on both sides of the Atlantic operated within a political and institutional culture that gave priority to managing social security and which neglected human capital.

in The Third Way and beyond
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in The Third Way and beyond

One major theme in discussions of New Labour and the Third Way more generally has concerned the Third Way's credibility as a social democratic force. Anthony Giddens's Third Way rests on a social theory of modernisation and globalisation and uses the notion of 'generative equality' to propose a new model for social policy. Private Finance Initiative (PFI) has been seen as an important part of the government's strategy to modernise public services and an economically feasible way of rebuilding the decaying public infrastructure, especially in the health service.

in The Third Way and beyond

This part assesses some of the approaches, attitudes and assumptions surrounding the role of community and of communitarianism in the Third Way as manifested in Britain by New Labour. For Amitai Etzioni, 'cultivating communities where they exist and helping them form where they have been lost should be a major priority for future progress along the Third Way'. The part provides a challenge to accepted beliefs about the role of community and of communitarianism in New Labour's Third Way.

in The Third Way and beyond

The Third Way is presented as a triumph of style over substance and the product par excellence of a soundbite political culture. A critical engagement with the discourse of the Third Way is integral to an understanding of the political character of New Labour, as well as in the forging of viable alternatives. The Third Way theory offered by Anthony Giddens has been appropriated by New Labour and other Centre-Left actors only selectively, where it is of use in developing the enduring agenda.

in The Third Way and beyond