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Britishness as racist nativism: a case of the unnamed ‘other’

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Heather Smith



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License (CC BY-NC-ND).


The construct of Britishness, as with nationalism elsewhere in the world, although amorphous and permeable over time, continues to be used by politicians and the media as a powerful exclusionary force. Moreover in England, fundamental British values (FBV), its most recent and official incarnation, now holds particular currency in education policy and regulatory mechanisms. This paper employs the concept of racist nativism, developed to explain the dialectic relationship between nativism and racism in America, to analyse both political constructions of Britishness with media portrayals of this, and student teachers’ comprehension of FBV as an aspect of the Teacher standards in England. The underlying premise here is that understanding student teachers’ perceptions requires an understanding of the social context in which they are learning to teach. The paper explores relations between these; distinct differences between the manifestations of racist nativism in the socio-political context, compared to student teachers’ perceptions in a professional context highlight perturbing issues for critical teacher educators. Furthermore, the two analyses support articulation of the operationalisation of racist nativism in a context outside of the specific racial context of America. As this is manifested in subtly but importantly different ways than previously considered, the analysis also offers elaboration on the concept of racist nativism itself.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Smith HJ

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Journal of Education for Teaching

Year: 2016

Volume: 42

Issue: 3

Pages: 298-313

Online publication date: 25/05/2016

Acceptance date: 07/04/2016

Date deposited: 06/06/2016

ISSN (print): 0260-7476

ISSN (electronic): 1360-0540

Publisher: Routledge


DOI: 10.1080/02607476.2016.1184461


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