It’s widely supposed that London is becoming a city apart from the rest of the country – but does that translate into a stronger sense of its own identity?
British identities have changed in ways that few were predicting 40 years ago. We have seen a resurgence of Scottish and Welsh identities and, partly in reaction to this, a resurgence in English national belonging. These developments have been accompanied by a corresponding decline in the salience of British identity. Globalisation, and more particularly immigration, has worked at one and the same time to create a much more varied national identity map and many new hybrid-identities, while also sharpening more inward looking, even nationalistic, sentiment especially among some white Britons.
Identities have changed in London along with the rest of the country. Migration has transformed the face of capital, creating a far more diverse and cosmopolitan city. New data shows that 70 per cent of babies born in London have at least one foreign-born parent.
But while there has been a great deal of research looking at the changing nature of Scottish, Welsh, English and British identities, there has been almost no work on how Londoners understand themselves, or the way in which London identities have changed over recent years.
Centre for London produced a short research paper exploring what we know and don’t know about London identities, and what we might do to forge a stronger sense of shared civic identities. It considered questions such as: Are place-based identities becoming more or less salient? To what extent are city identities more inclusive than national identities? How does the understanding of London intersect with other identities?
The project included a review of current research and data, and a workshop with experts and stakeholders. The workshop took place in autumn 2017, and the paper London Identities, was published in April 2018.