In their variety of topics and approaches, the studies collected in this volume testify to the criticality of representing personal, professional and organizational identities through the new media, as their ability to reach a virtually unlimited audience amplifies the potential political, cultural and economic impact of discursive identity constructions. They also confirm that new highly sophisticated media can forge identities well beyond the simply iconic or textual representation, generating deeply interconnected webs of meaning capable of occupying an expanding – and adaptable – discursive space.
LIDIA DE MICHELIS National Identity on the Web: The Discursive Politics of Icons. A Portrait of England 107
LIDIA DE MICHELIS National Identity on the Web: The Discursive Politics of Icons. A Portrait of England 1. Introduction This chapter sets out to analyze the shift in discursive and representa- tional approaches which characterizes the British government’s current attempt to promote and embed a shared mood of ‘progressive nationalism’ (Goodhart 2006). Underlying this new mood is wide- spread concern about what tends to be seen as the ‘hijacking’ of the discourse of British – and, in particular, English – national identity by the extreme right since the European elections of 2004 and, with a vengeance, in the aftermath of the London terror attacks of July 7th, 2005. In the wake of Gordon Brown’s advocacy of the institution of a ‘British Day’ in his famous speech at the Fabian Society on January 14th, 2006,1 this effort, addressing explicitly the English but aiming in fact at cohering the whole country under a revived sense of national identity, has commanded controversial media coverage, and is still being heatedly debated across multiple public spheres. 1 Gordon Brown’s point was revived and elaborated on in a Fabian Society Report by Ruth Kelly, then Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, and Liam Byrne, at the time Minister of State for immigration and asylum (Kelly/Byrne 2007: 19-22). ‘Civic’ understandings of Britishness were also at the heart of the Review of Citizenship launched by Lord Gold- smith at the government’s request in October 2007 (available at ). Unless stated otherwise, all the websites referred to in this...
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