According to Professor of Public Policy, Michael Kenny at Cambridge University, there is an idea that the ‘English are not allowed to be proudly patriotic in the way the Irish, Welsh or Scottish are’. He argued that this anomaly is rooted in the belief that although the nation is a political entity it continues to govern many far-flung territories. Despite this anomaly, the concept of patriotism in itself, does not sit well with many. The underlying belief is that the division of humanity into subgroups causes people to identify and empathise not with humanity as a whole but with the subgroup to which they belong.
But are there any benefits to patriotism? The latest research shows there are. Although patriotism can be incredible divisive it can be remarkably unifying and unlike class structures, it can unify across gender and political lines. Theories suggest that group loyalty boosters self-esteem. The more loyal one is the more pride one gains. Feeling proud of your nation makes you feel good about life in general, say the scientists. According to an essay by Daniel Druckman, patriotism fills a basic human need. “At the level of the nation, the group fulfils economic, sociocultural and political needs, giving individuals a sense of security, feeling of belonging and prestige”. In fact, interviews of 41,000 residents of 31 European nations found that it was civic pride that was most linked to their wellbeing. The type of pride that made people the happiest was when they felt they belonged to a country regardless of ethnicity.
Events like the World Cup, Wimbledon and other international sporting occasions are great examples of events that build national pride. England might not have won the World Cup but they came pretty close, arrived home to a heroes welcome and instilled a few weeks of fleeting patriotism throughout the country. And modest and retiring Gareth Southgate may or may not have been pleased to find out that a tube station was temporarily named after him, but regardless of that, it appears it pays to be positively patriotic.
Well done England!
By Natasha Kelly