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Week 1: Building Modern Britain. Reading: Norton CH 1 and 2. Course Objectives . Introduce students to the British political process. Monarchy vs. Parliament Executive vs. Legislative Examine pressing issues in British politics. Devolution and Northern Ireland Immigration Election 2010

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Week 1 building modern britain

Week 1: Building Modern Britain


Norton CH 1 and 2

Course objectives
Course Objectives

  • Introduce students to the British political process.

    • Monarchy vs. Parliament

    • Executive vs. Legislative

  • Examine pressing issues in British politics.

    • Devolution and Northern Ireland

    • Immigration

    • Election 2010

  • Examine the basis of British foreign policy.

    • The “Special Relationship” with the US

    • The Iraq War

Office hours contact information
Office Hours/Contact Information

  • Temporary Website:

    • http://sites.google.com/site/dfisk00/british-politics

  • Professor David Fisk

    • E-mail: [email protected]

    • Location TBA 5:20-6:20 T/R

  • Teaching Assistant Melanie Feurey

    • E-mail: [email protected]

    • SSB 347 Hours TBA

Course grading and participation
Course Grading and Participation

  • Two Exams (Midterm and Final)-45% each

    • 6-8 pages in length

    • Late assignments are not accepted without valid documentation.

  • Participation-10%

    • Discussion of current events in the British political system.

  • Current Events

    • BBC News, Economist, Financial Times

    • Guardian, Times, Independent

Course readings
Course Readings

  • Norton. Politics in Britain.

  • Dunleavy et al. Developments in British Politics 8.

    • Read Norton chapters first; Dunleavy second.

  • Riddell. Hug Them Close.

    • You can purchase either the reproduction or a used copy; you do NOT need to buy both.

  • Archer. First Among Equals.

    • Fictional account of parliamentary life from an insider

    • Read Norton and Dunleavy first

  • Supplementary readings:

    • Read based on interest

Guiding questions
Guiding Questions

  • What constitutes the United Kingdom? Great Britain?

  • What factors promoted the unification of disparate nations under the banner of the United Kingdom?

  • What does ethnicity, class, and religion look like in the British case?

  • How do British citizens view their political system?

Great britain united kingdom
Great Britain/United Kingdom

  • Great Britain:

    • England, Wales, and Scotland.

  • United Kingdom:

    • England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland (Ulster).

  • Democracy by evolution, not revolution.

    • Important ramifications for the British constitution.


  • The UK in its current form has evolved over 400 years.

    • Acts of union added territory to the English dominion.

  • 16thcentury: Wales annexed.

  • 18th century: Scottish lands added.

  • 19th century: Ireland added

    • Irish independence in 1922

    • Northern Ireland (Ulster) retained after Ireland declares independence.

The process of unification protestantism
The Process of Unification:Protestantism

  • Each region maintained the “trappings of statehood” at the time of union

  • Over time, economic and political rationale to unification became obvious but initial unification not always seen as beneficial.

  • Protestantism provided an initial basis for common identity in Wales, Scotland, and England.

    • “Catholic threat” provided a convenient rallying call.

The process of unification the french threat
The Process of Unification: The French Threat

  • Fears of an attack based in Scotland or Ireland prompted acts of union.

  • Protestantism provided a useful way to mobilize the British territory against threats from Catholic France.

  • Mobilization brought people from various regions together; facilitated nation building.

The process of unification globalization and empire
The Process of Unification: Globalization and Empire

  • Industrialization provided benefits for unification.

    • Search for new markets coupled with impressive naval resources laid the groundwork for empire.

  • Imperial expansion fostered a sense of pride in the British nation.

  • Improvements in communications and transportation fostered closer ties between the regions.

The process of unification the monarchy
The Process of Unification:The Monarchy

  • Advances in communication aided the rise in importance of the monarchy.

  • Cannadine: “Secular magic of monarchy” established during the reign of George III (1760-1820).

  • Queen Victoria (1837-1901) furthered solidified the popularity of the institution; linking the monarchy with the state.

The process of unification political reforms
The Process of Unification:Political Reforms

  • Limitation of the franchise to wealthy aristocrats caused rumblings

    • Political movements seeking to expand the franchise existed throughout the territory.

  • Reform movements united citizens from various regions.

  • As franchise expands, political parties see value in contesting elections on a national rather than a regional platform.

The effects of unification
The Effects of Unification

  • Unification has not erased regional identities.

    • Scottish and Welsh nationalist movements fare well in elections.

  • Devolution provides a voice for the regions while allowing the central government to rule on behalf of the British nation.

    • While nationalist parties exist, secession seems unlikely.

United kingdom population
United Kingdom: Population

  • Population: approximately 60 million.

  • One of the most densely populated countries in the world.

    • 625 people per square mile.

  • England is more densely populated than the other regions.

  • Predominantly white; 11 out of every 12 people are native born.

  • A “graying” society; Immigration is changing the makeup of the UK.

United kingdom religion
United Kingdom: Religion

  • Religion no longer provides the same unifying force as it did.

  • As in other advanced democracies, the British are becoming increasingly more secular.

  • The number of citizens who do not identify with any religion has risen by nearly 12% over the last twenty years.

  • Anglicanism has declined by 11%.

  • Catholicism has remained relatively constant.

United kingdom class
United Kingdom: Class

  • Class used to be the major predictor of partisan identification and activity; this is declining.

  • The postwar era has been associated with upward mobility; working classes have become more middle class while many in the middle class has moved to the upper middle class.

  • The rise of the middle class is reducing the stark differences between the upper and working classes; electoral volatility is on the rise.

United kingdom public opinion
United Kingdom: Public Opinion

  • Monarchy:

    • Over two-thirds believe it should be retained.

  • Political System:

    • Cynicism towards the system is rife; three-quarters believe government could be improved.

  • Political Parties:

    • Trust in political parties to “do the right thing” or “put the country first” is low.

  • Citizen Efficacy:

    • Two-thirds believe that they do not really have a say in what government does.

Conclusion the uk as typical
Conclusion: The UK as “Typical”?

  • Globalization and immigration are changing the ethnic background of the British population.

    • Providing the impetus for new political parties (e.g. BNP/UKIP/Respect).

  • The role of religion and class in shaping British politics is declining.

    • In line with other advanced democracies.

  • While support for the monarchy remains high, cynicism towards the government is in line with other advanced democracies.

Next lecture
Next Lecture

  • Theme: The British Constitution

  • Theme: The Monarchy

  • Readings: Norton CH 3