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Conduc tor tiin ific

Conf. Univ. dr. Camelia PETRESCU


Laura-Corina PU CA

Translation comments on

British Cultural Identities

Second edition

Mike Storry and Peter Childs

Routledge 11, London and New York, 2002

Traducere comentat

Identiti Culturale Britanice

A doua ediie
Table of contents

Preface 2
1 Introduction 4
1.1 Descriptive of the domain and source text 4
1.2 Motivation of choice 5
2. Theoretical Approaches in Translation 7
2.1 Translation process 7
2.2 Choice of Translation Model 9
2.3 Translation Situation and Translation Instructions 9
3. Text Analysis 11
3.1 Source Text Analysis 11
3.2 Extratextual Factors 13
3.3 Intratextual Factors 15
3.4 Prediction of Target Text Readers 18
3.5 Establishing the problems and difficulties of translation 20
3.6 Choice of Translation Method 20
Target text 21
4. Comments on translation 60
4.1. Translation problems 60
4.2. Translation difficultuies 68
4.3. Technical difficulties 69
Conclusions 70
Bibliography 71
Appendix 72


Without translation, I would be limited to the borders of my own country. The

translator is my most important ally. He introduces me to the world.

(Italo Calvino)

The above quotation describes perfectly the role of the translator, its importance,
making communication possible between people from different countries, which broadens
horizons. In other words, the translator is the bridge between two languages or more, and
transfers not only the words of the text, but also the feelings and the culture, which are hidden
between its lines. A translator must be both bilingual and bicultural, which means he should
not only know the languages he works with at an advanced level, but he should also have
mountains of knowledge about both cultures. They must be bicultural because they need to
have the ability to make the target-text consumers understand the cultural reference from the
source-text, with cultural equivalences from the target-language, because language does not
mean only words and grammar rules. Translators must transfer the meaning of the target-
text into the source-text more than anything. If this doesnt happen, the translation makes no
sense, even if the grammatical structure is identical, and this fact makes the translation one
of bad quality. This assertion is supported by Paul Newmark in his book, A Textbook of
Translation Note that language rules and prescriptions have nothing much to do with
good writing.

Because of failure of communication in the past, things like wars or unsuccessful

businesses took place. Nowadays, word-for word translation is not enough, the meaning and
intentions from the target-text must be transferred into the source-text.

How does a good translation need to be? Personally, I often heard people saying that
translation is an art, and I agree. Translation can be compared to drawing, because a word-
for-word translation is just like a sketch: not enough. A drawing is considered good when
fine details are added, details needed in order to make it as similar as it can be to the original
image. In my opinion, translation can be viewed in the same way, it needs to carry the
meaning of the original text and the details would be the cultural equivalence made in order
to remain culturally sensitive to the target audience. No one will remember a good translation
as easily as a poor one and this fact affects negatively the translators image. The translation
is an imperative act, as much as it is a creative one. It must meet several criteria in order to
be considered good. Firstly, it needs to be accurate, meaning missing sentences, bad
grammar and mistranslations must not exist. If the translation presents such mistakes, its
readers lose confidence not only in the document, but also in the person or company who
translated it. One of the most difficult aspects of a text to translate are stylistic elements such
as rhythm and rhyme, and they should get the attention they deserve. Naturalness is the key
factor which makes the translation not sound like one, but to sound like it is the original text.
A good translator can be recognized by his ability to transfer the feel of the original text
to the translation. Another important thing is clarity, in order for the translation to be easily
comprehensible. The translation must convey the same information as the original text, and
must not include additions on the part of the translator (except they are needed for
clarification). Next, the translation must be culturally appropriate for the target audience,
which means it must be culturally readapted into the target audience. Lastly, the audience
must be taken into consideration. A text written for scientists in a specific domain must be
translated at a higher level than it would be if it was translated for the general public. All

these criteria suggest that there is more to translation than just being linguistically faithful to
the original text and if all of them are met, the translation can be considered to be good.

1. Introduction

1.1 Description of the domain and source text

The source text belongs to a domain regarding the United Kingdom of Great
Britain and Northern Ireland and its cultural development. The book, entitled British
Cultural Identities, is the second revised edition, written by Mike Storry and Peter
Childs. As presented in the book, British Cultural Identities describe how people in
Britain see themselves. It is concerned with the culture they generate and are in turn
formed by. Culture is meant in its broad sense as shared experience.

The way people in the United Kingdom see themselves is constantly changing,
just like their culture does. The second edition of the book covers modern culture
elements, as Posh and Becks, Jamie Oliver, Big Brother, the Millennium Dome and
Harry Potter.

The book clarifies the fact that British people are not only the English, as most
people think, but also the Scottish, Wales and the population of Northern Ireland.
Cultural identity is not something that people can choose for themselves, it is given by
their background and the influences bearing on them. Culture is not the only subject
covered in the book, but also the current political and social events, because these
enable basic background information on the British.

The institutions of Great Britain define a stable society, but other institutions
influence more peoples lives, from a cultural point of view: traditions, sports,
advertising, the music industry, television.

British people believe that the schooling system is dumbing down, and some
of the reasons are family, technology and the addition of useless courses, as well as
the loss of quality in television and the erosion of standards of quality in education.

Britain is a very complex country, because it is generally conformist and

conservative, but the peoples voice is strong. People start to be more open-minded
when it comes to their attitude towards foreigner, being less xenophobic. The urban
developments of the country are the same in all Britain.

Mass-media orchestrates the British population more than anything else. It

offers them information about what happens on the continent, soap operas which
contain moral and ethical dilemmas, and, last but not least, heroes, whom they admire.

British do not follow fashion trends; their individuality is over the herd instinct.
They have an impressive tolerance of eccentricity, which makes them a paradox in a
homogenizing world.

The book has seven chapters, and each one covers an interesting theme: Places
and People; Education, work and leisure; Gender, sex and the family; Youth culture
and style; Class and politics; Ethnicity and languages; Religion and heritage. At the
beginning of each chapter it will be a timeline, which will include the most significant
dates for that area. In the chapter, can be found many opinions expressed, focusing on
current debates and key moments. At the end of each chapter, there are several
exercises and their answers can be found in the text.

The aim of the book is the cover all the aspects of British culture today, but it
also suggests that tomorrow it can be completely different.

1.2 Motivation of choice

I have chosen this text because I find culture a very interesting topic, and I
believe that it represents the pillars of a population. I also believe that culture made
the British what they are today and it is changing them every day. Culture cant be
stopped, its developing at every moment and every nation has its own representative
culture. But the most important aspect is that culture changed through time because of
foreign influences, and has broadened the horizons of the British people, which I find

2. Theoretical Approaches in Translation

2.1 Translation Process

Translation is the transmittal of written text from one language into another.
Translation is the action of interpretation of the meaning of a text, and subsequent production
of an equivalent text, also called a translation, that communicates the same message in
another language (Dejica, 2012).

All translation implies a process or series of steps and decisions to be performed of

taken (Dejica, 2012:150). The translator is mainly a messanger. Thus a translation may be
understood as the process whereby a message which is expressed in a particular source
language is linguistically transformed in order to be understood by reader of the target
language. Actually, the translator is conveying the meaning expressed by the original writer
so the end reader gets a translated text that is faithful to the source text in the meaning (Dejica,

In translation studies, the translation process is usually represented either in a two-

phase or in a three-phase model.

The two-phase model represents translation as a process consisting of two

chronologically sequential phases, namely analysis (in other terminologies, decoding or
comprehension phase) and synthesis (encoding, decoding or comprehension phace). In the
first phase, the translator reads the source text, analyzing all its relevant aspects. In the
second phase, the ST meaning or sense is reverbalized in the target language. This means
that by using meaning and sense as a tertium comparationis, the translator chooses the
corresponding TL signs to match the SL signs. (Nord, 1988:34)

Wilss considers the two-phase model to be more concise than the three-phase model,
which contains transfer as a third phase inserted between analysis and synthesis. In his
opinion, the two-phase model brings out more clearly the double R1/S2 function of the
translator, i.e his role as ST receiver and TT sender, and depicts the activity of the
translator in a more true-to-life way (Wilss 1982:80).

The three-phase model has the intermediate phase for transfer operations, which is not
present in the two-phase model and which is inserted between the comprehension phase and
the reconstruction phase, so that the translation process is divided into three steps analysis
(decoding, comprehension phase), transfer (transcoding), and synthesis (recording) (Nord
2005: 35).

That is to say, the translator first analyzes the message of the SOURCE language into
its simplest and structurally clearest forms, transfers it at this level, and then restructures it
to the level of the RECEPTOR language which is most appropriate for the audience which
he intends to reach (Nida 1975: 79f.).

This particular model implies a deeper understanding of the source text, introducing a
rudiment of what the functionalists call text function (Superceanu, 2009).

In addition, Mercedes Trics refers to intuition, or common sense as the most common
of all senses; in other words, making use of that sixth sense, a combination of intelligence,
sensitivity and intuition. This phenomenon works very well if handled cautiously:
...the transfer process is a difficult and complex approach mechanism,
one in which one must make use of all one's intellectual capacity, intuition
and skill (Trics, 1995).

The functionalists (Nord, 1991) proposed the looping model, a four-phase model, the
central concept being the skopos, the purpose which the target text is intended to serve. This
central element of the model establishes the translators priorities during his task: translation
method, techniques, lexical units and grammatical structures. Therefore, the phases of this
model are: the analysis of the text skopos or purpose, the source text analysis, the transfer
and the target text synthesis (Superceanu, 2009).

The functionalists consider translation to be a circular process heading from the target
text purpose as the starting point, continuing with source text analysis and the transfer of the
source text relevant elements and reaching the production of the TT. This process is
considered recursive because it consists of an infinite number of loops. These loops take
place between the source-text situation and the ST, the target-text situation and the TT
(Superceanu, 2009:26).

2.2 Choice of Translation Model

For translating the text, I have chosen the looping model, also called the four-phase
model, as first described by Poincar in 1913, because its circular structure ensures a
permanent bond between the ST and the TT, and the cultural, linguistic and grammatical
aspects are permanently in sight of the translator, in order for the translation to be of good

I find this translation model to be a positive approach to learning that comes from the
relationship between previous knowledge and new knowledge (Poincar, 1913) and this
gives this model the advantages of clarifying the analysis enabling the reasearcher to
design cleat and reduced scales; and methodological relevance it can be directly tailored
to provide relevant data about the object of analysis (J. Aixela, 2008).

2.3 Translation Situation and Translation Instructions

The specification phase introduces the translator to the task, i.e. the translation
requirements and constraints. This information is contained in the translation brief, which
describes the translation situation and provides instructions (Superceanu, 2009:57). The
translation method is determined by this set of instructions, and so is the form of the TT. The
brief is usually given by the initiator, but in this case, I had to elicit the brief myself, therefore,
besides translator I am also the initiator.

British culture is constantly changing, from one day to another, and had (and still has)
a massive impact on todays society. This whole process of evolution of the British society
can be observed if we analyze the people on the street, popular culture, media, politics,
education system and the heroes, whom the British admire. Because of this, the Romanian
publisher RAO wants to publish the translation of the book British Cultural Identities by
Mike Storry and Peter Childs in order to give people a better view on British culture and a
better understanding of all its aspects. Many elements from the source text need to be adapted
and transferred into the target culture. The deadline for the translation is 15 of June 2017.

3. Text Analysis

3.1 Source Text Analysis

The functional approach to translation introduced the systematic analysis of the ST,
precisely of the extratextual and intratextual factors (Superceanu, 2009:77).

Christiane Nord, who studied translation-oriented text analysis distinguished between

extratextual and intratextual factors on the basis of the so-called New Rhetoric Formula. She
came up with two sets of Wh-questions, one applicable to the context, the other, to the text.
The formula reads:

- Who transmits

- To Whom

- What for

- By Which medium

- Where

- When

- Why a text

- With What function?

(Nord, 1991:36)

According to this set, the extratextual factors are:

- The sender/ author

- The receiver/ user

- The purpose

- The channel/ medium

- The place and time of text production and reception

- The motive for communication

- The text function.

( Superceanu, 2009:59)

The second set of Wh-questions are:

- On what subject matter does he say what (what not)

- In what order

- Using which non-verbal elements

- In which words

- In what kind of sentences

- In which tone

- To what effect?

(Nord, 1991:36)

The intratextual factors are:

- The subject matter the text deals with

- The content

- The knowledge presuppositions made by the author, i.e. knowledge assumed to be

known by the receiver

- The composition of the text

- The non-linguistic elements accompanying the text

- The lexical features

- The syntactic structures

- The style

- The intended effect on the readers.

(Superceanu, 2009:60)

By analyzing the source text, the translator can identify himself some of the
extratextual factors, but he cant identify them all or the TT factors without information from
the initiator. If such information is not provided, the translator has to do that through a
checklist of questions, which are:

Factor Question
Sender Who requires the translation?
Receiver/ User Who is the document/ text for?
Translation Purpose What is the document/ text for?
Target text type What text type is to be produced?
Motive for the translation What has occasioned the translation?
Time of delivery What is the deadline for the TT?
Form of presentation Is the text to be published? If yes, where and
by whom?
(Superceanu, 2009:60)

The extratextual and intratextual factors discussed above apply to the current
translation situation:

3.2 Extratextual Factors

The sender

In this case, the sender is RAO, a Romanian publishing house, which is specialized in
translated books, and which wants to add to its collection of cultural books the Romanian
version of Mike Storry and Peter Childs book about the British culture.

The receiver/ intended audience

The receivers of this translation can be students who take classes about the British
culture, or as well, they can be people who are interested in this subject.

The senders intention

The sender has a referential purpose, because he seeks to inform its audience about the
British culture through various perspectives: sport, media, politics, etc. The senders sub-
purpose is didactic, because the book is a mountain of knowledge to be learned by the
receiver. Besides this informative purpose, the sender also has an appellative purpose,
seeking to persuade the target readers to become more interested in British culture, which
changes from one day to another, and which is the main factor that made the British nation
what it is today.


The channel used is the written form, a book divided in seven chapters, which are, in
their turn, divided into subchapters. The book also includes timelines at the beginning of
each chapter, exercises at the end of them, and non-verbal elements such as illustrations of
British landscapes or pictures with British people or celebrities.

The place of text production

English language varies depending on the region, and because of that this factor is very
important. Not only American English is different form British English, but also British
English has various dialects. The places of this book publication are simultaneously London
United Kingdom, New York USA, and Canada.

The time of production

The time of production is as important as the place, because every language changes
in terms of grammatical norms, meaning some words are no longer in use (archaisms). The
translator can verify this by checking the date of the publication. In this case, the book was
published by Routledge, London UK, New York USA and Canada in 2002, being the
second edition.

The motive

Peter Childs is Principal Lecturer in English at the University of Gloucestershire. He

has edited, with Mike Storry, The Routledge Encyclopaedia of Contemporary British
Culture. Mike Storry was Senior Lecturer in English at Liverpool John Moores University,
now he is retired. He has taught widely in Britain and abroad. As said in the preface of the
book, British Cultural Identities, it is aimed at people interested in British identities through
contemporary practices and activities: not through institutions or economics, but through

The text function

In this case, the function of the text is the same with the senders intention; it is a
referential function, which informs the audience about the major concepts of the British
culture, and how it changed through time. Culture is one of the most important factors that
made the British nation what it is today. It also has an appellative function, persuading the
readers to become more interested in what means to be British and learn more about their

3.3 Intratextual Factors

The analysis of the intratextual factors helps the translator determine the problems that
are likely to arise and it is based on the following questions (Nord, 1991:41):

Subject matter

The analysis of the subject matter should establish:

- Whether the text treats one subject or several subjects (Superceanu, 2009:79).

The subject matter of this text is British culture, with all its important aspects. The
book starts with an introduction to this subject, which presents culture as all the
characteristic activities and interests of a people, just like T. S. Eliot says. The book
explores all the aspects of British culture, taking a look into economics, politics, educational
system, but most of all, culture itself.


Content refers to the items of information which the sender considers to be informative
and meaningful for the receiver. The items may be facts about people, actions, events, places,
times, or may be opinions, reasons and objectives. The facts may sometimes take the form
of figures and statistics. Opinions, reasons and objectives come as ideas.

The content is expressed by the lexical items, the grammatical structures of the text
and the mutual relationship between them. It may also be encapsulated in summaries,
abstracts, topic sentences and headings (Superceanu, 2009:80).

The book presents the major concepts in tourism, its progress over the years and the
fact that is a very important factor when it comes to any nation. Each of its aspects are
discussed in chapters and their subchapters, analyzing the process through which the British
nation is what it is nowadays. The book has paid great attention to the impact of foreign
influences on British culture, because they represent a big part of what culture has become.


Presuppositions refer to things and phenomena of the world to which the text refers.
It is the information which the ST sender expects to be part of the receivers knowledge of
the world, background or situational, and therefore he/she does not express it explicitly
(Superceanu, 2009:82).

Presuppositions require identification and sometimes research work. In highly

specialized texts some information will always be unfamiliar to the translator, but to the TT
reader, an expert in the respective area, that information is known. Such a problem is solved
by requesting information from a specialist (Superceanu, 2009:83).

In this case, the target readers of the book should have some basic knowledge not only
about British culture itself, but about everything that this concept includes.


The book British Cultural Identities is divided into 7 chapters, which, in turn, are
divided into subchapters, which examine various aspects of British culture. Each of the
chapters include a timeline in the beginning and review exercises at the end of them. The
first subject to be presented is cultural geography, meaning how different do the population
of Britain see themselves from one another, depending on their region. Sex and Family are
the next to be discussed, including the concept of traditional family and peoples attitudes
to sexuality. Teenagers is the subject analyzed in the next chapter, because they always have
different points of view than the previous generations, and the British society is becoming
more and more youth-oriented. Politics and socio-economic rank is a very important matter
which can be found between the pages of this book. They are analyzed particularly, but more
important, their relationship is also evaluated; does social calls influence the voting patterns?
Britains xenophobic past is revealed in the discussion about ethnicity, and also the fact that
the language is different from one region to another of the continent. People believe that the
values from the past are starting to fade and that the British people are starting to lose their
faith. This is discussed in the last chapter, which is about religion and heritage, values and
customs from the past which are kept today. I was concerned with some of the cultural terms
which were included in the book, because they dont have a cultural equivalent in the target
language, so it was necessary more research, so I could explain them properly.

The non-verbal elements

Pragmatic texts make use of a wide range of non-verbal elements, i.e. signs which
belong to other codes than the language code. They are also called graphic devices or
sometimes aids. Their main purpose is to provide a more vivid and clearer view than their
prose equivalent (Superceanu: 2009,88).

Some translation theorists include in the category of non-verbal elements the special
types of print for titles and headings and the layout of the text, the combination of verbal
text with non-verbal elements (Nord: 1991:108).

The book contains non-verbal elements like illustrations of British landscapes and
pictures of British people.
The lexical features

The analysis of lexis is always important in the translation process, but its
thoroughness depends on whether the TT preserves the ST purpose or not (Superceanu,

The choice of lexical items is mainly determined by three intratextual factors: the
subject matter, the content and the presence of non-verbal elements.

The subject matter and the content influence the choice of the stylistic level of

The presence of non-verbal elements requires the use of specific metalanguage, i.e.
language about the organization of the text, and terminologies for their reference
(Superceanu, 2009:90).

It is also influenced directly/ indirectly by the extratextual factors: sender, level of

formality, recipient, medium and motive.

The text I have chosen has a high level of difficulty because it is highly culturally
marked. If the reader does not possess knowledge about British culture, he/ she will not
understand the message of the text. Some of the cultural terms I have encountered in the text
are, i.e. the twelfth of August, Derby Day, rugby at Twickenham, the Great Exhibition of
1851 at the Crystal Palace in London, the Royal Variety Performance, etc.

3.4 Prediction of Target Text Readers

The target text analysis will be done using the same criteria as the ones used for
analyzing the source text: extratextual and intertextual factors.

Extratextual factors

Factor Factor value

Sender RAO, a Romanian publishing house

Senders purpose To inform the audience about the British
culture and persuades the readers to become
more interested about this subject.
Receiver People interested in British culture or
students who take classes regarding this
Medium The channel used is the written form, the
book British Cultural Identities
Place The places of this book publication
are simultaneously London United
Kingdom, New York USA, and Canada.
Time of production The translator can set the time of
production by checking the date of the
publication. The book was published by
Routledge, London UK, New York
USA and Canada in 2002, being the
second edition.
Motive The book is aimed at people interested in
British identities through contemporary
practices and activities.
Text function To inform the audience about the British
culture and persuades the readers to
become more interested about this subject
(the same with the senders purpose).

Intertextual factors

Factor Factor value

Subject Matter British Cultural Identities
Content Preserved from the source text
Presuppositions General knowledge about the British

Composition The same as the source text in terms of
Non-verbal Elements Illustrations of British landscapes and
pictures of British people
Lexical Features High level of difficulty; highly culturally
Effect The same as in the source text: to inform
people more about British culture

3.5 Establishing the problems and difficulties of translation

The main problems and difficulties in this text are due to the cultural references. If the
readers of the book dont have knowledge of the British culture, the cannot fully understand
its message, therefore, some I had to explain some concepts between brackets. Other
problems I encountered are linguistic, syntax and lexical problems, text-specific problems.

3.6 Choice of Translation Method

In the translation stage for the full-content mode, the translators goals are only three:
comprehension of the ST content, re-expression of the content in the TL, and TT writing. In
order to achieve his goals, the translator uses methods, strategies and techniques.

The methods entail requirements for the linguistic expression at the lexical,
morphological, syntactic, and pragmatic levels, which can be met by using strategies and
techniques (Superceanu, 2009:107).

The translation methods for this mode are either linguistic or pragmatic. The
linguistic methods are the faithful method and the semantic method, while the pragmatic
method is the communicative method, although the opinions of linguistic-oriented theorists
differ about the number of possible methods (Newmark, 1988).

I have translated only a part of this text, so the mode of translation is selective. The
translation method I have used is the communicative method because I believe it is the best-
suited for the text, considering the skopos and text type.

2 Identiti culturale britanice

43 Cucerirea roman

1066 Cucerirea normand

1215 Magna Carta (Marea Cart a libert ilor)

1509 Ascensiunea la tron a lui Henric al VIII-lea

1558 Ascensiunea la tron a Elisabetei I

1616 Decesul lui Shakespeare

164251 Rzboiul Civil Englez

1815 Btlia de la Waterloo

1901 Moartea reginei Victoria

1940 Churchill devine prim-ministru

1952 Ascensiunea la tron a Elisabetei a II-a

1997 Moartea Prin esei Diana

2002 Moartea Prin esei Margaret

i a Reginei Mam,

Jubileul de Aur al Reginei

Elisabeta a II-a

Introducere 3

Aceast carte este despre Marea Britanie contemporan i poporul britanic. Marea
Britanie este o ar ale crei grani e sunt bine definite, a crui peisaj este specific, cu o istorie
lung i care se afl ntotdeauna n clasamentele economice, sociale i politice. Britanicii
sunt mult mai greu de caracterizat, deoarece unii dintre ei nu locuiesc n ar. Chiar i cei
care locuiesc n ar nu se consider to i a fi britanici. Na ionalitatea const n devotement i
afiliere cultural, de i unele persoane consider c na ionalitatea const n locul n care
locuieti sau n echipa spe care o sus ii n cadrul campionatelor, n timp ce alte persoane spun
c depinde alturi de cine lup i. Na ionalitatea nu mai reprezint o for de impact n Marea
Britanie i depinde pur i simplu de circumstan a dat, fiind mult mai pu in important dect
identit ile locale sau cele globale: rudele, prietenii i comunit ile din care facem parte

sunt mult mai importante pentru noi, precum i cultura transna ional.

Na ionalitatea are n primul rnd legtur cu propria identitatea, care este i ea la rndul
ei alctuit din mai multe identit i, cum ar fi: etnia, sexul, orientarea sexual, religia, vrst
i locul de munc. Cartea aceasta eviden iaz identit ile care se afl n Marea Britanie la
nceputul secolului 21, iar datorit acestui lucru se ridic semne de ntrebare cu vedere la
diferen ele dintre identit ile culturale britanice i identit ile culturale din Marea Britanie.
T. S. Eliot a afirmat n urm cu 50 de ani faptul c termenul cultur include toate
activit ile i interesele unei persoane. El credea c acest lucru semnificpentru englezi:
Marea Curs de Cai a Marii Britanii, Cursa de canotaj Henley Regatta, oraul Cowes, 12
august (deschiderea sezonului de vntoare), Finala Cupei de Fotbal Angliei, cursele de cini,
jocul Pinball, jocul de tras la int, cacavalul Wensleydale, varz fiart tiat buc i, sfecla
murat, bisericile gotice din secolul al XIX-lea i muzica compozitorului britanic Elgar. Pe
parcusul celor 50 de ani, concep ia asupra englezilor i a britanicilor s-a schimbat complet
i pu in lume acord importan datei de 12 august, nceperea sezonului de potrnichi. Din
tabelul 0.1 reiese c televiziunea nu a sus inut ca Eliot s fie principalul motiv de afiliere
cultural a poporului britanic.

4 Identiti Culturale Britanice

Britanic este el nsui un termen discutabil. Ca urmare a transferului de putere ctre

Sco ia, ara Galilor i Irlanda din ultimii ani, se ridic mult semne de ntrebare despre ce
nseamn s fi britanic.

TABELUL 0. 1 Subiecte de conversa ie cu prietenii i familia, 1991

_________________________________________________________ _______

Subiect Procentul persoanelor care

vorbesc despre subiect

Publicitate 2

Afaceri 2

Creterea copiilor 26

Mod 19

Costul de trai 43

Educa ie 20

Grdinrit 16

Legea i ordinea 16

Vecini sau colegi de munc 21

Politicieni 8

Religie 6

Sport 25

Programe de televiziune 48

Guvernul 19

Sindicate 1

Introducere 5

Articole din ziar 19

Sntate i ajutor social 18



Sntatea personal 21

Nici una din cele de mai sus/Nu

tiu 3


Sursa: TOM Attitudes to Advertising Survey, 1991

Dac to i sunt britanici, atunci de ce oamenii simt nevoia s revin la na ionalitatea

anterioar i dac puterea din Regatul Unit se mparte, ce se ntmpl cu englezii dominatori?

La analizarea na ionalit ii observm impedimentul c termenul de britanic este mai

des folosit dect cel de englez. Pe mormntul lui William Gladstone el este descris ca Prim-
ministrul Angliei ara Galilor, Sco ia i Irlanda sunt excluse. Galezii, sco ienii i nord-
irlandezii cred c dac cuvntul englez devine sinonim cu britanic, identitatea lor este anulat.
Dac englezii i britanicii sunt acelai lucru, celelalte na ionalit i care triesc pe teritoriul
Insulelor Britanice nu sunt incluse. R. S. Thomas, poet i cleric galez, sus ine c Britania
nu exist pentru mine. Este o no iune abstract impus poporului galez. Pentru el era doar
un aspect al imperiului i nu doarea s face parte din acesta.

6 Identiti Culturale Britanice

Dezbaterea s-a extins pn la momentul cnd s-a pus ntrebarea dac na iunea ne mai
influen eaz sau nu. Unii critici sus in c este mai simplu de definit identitatea cultural
britanic privind mai mult nafara rii. Dezbaterea afirm c Marea Britanie este doar un
constituent al Satului Global al lui Marshall McLuhan - rezultatul influen elor din diferite
pr i ale lumii, i nu dezvoltarea autohton. Trebuie doar s observm popularitatea fast-
food-ului McDonalds, a hainelor americne ti sau rspndirea restaurantelor cu specific
oriental. ( Exist peste opt mii de restaurante cu specific indian n Britania). Trebuie s se
in cont de acest lucru. Nu avem o cultur global cu multe influen e din diferite zone
geografice i identit i diferite? Mul i oameni se las influen a i de vrsta lor, de faptul c
locuiesc ntr-un ora mare sau de faptul c sunt sraci sau boga i. Este na ionalitatea anulat
de identit i culturale? Rspunsurile acestor ntrebri se afl n aceast carte.

Identitatea cultural este par ial impus de trecutul persoanei i par ial aleas de
oameni. To i oamenii sunt i influen a i de natur i de hran. Etnia, fizicul, inteligen a sunt
motenite de la prin i. Dar mul i al i factori ai mediului nconjurtor le influen eaz evolu ia:
de exemplu familia, regiune, educa ie, religie, muzic, etc. le influen eaz experien a, pn
cnd oamenii i formeaz propria lor identitate cultural pe baza propriilor decizii, de
exemplu, dac sunt fani Beatles sau suporteri Manchester United, dac merg la oper sau se
uit la filme. Popula ia se conformeaz cu principiile impuse de prin i sau nu, accept sau
nu ateptrile societ ii. Aceste influen e, directe sau indirecte, determin n final identitatea

Forma de plural a cuvntului identit i folosit n titlu reprezint faptul c nu to i

britanicii sunt la fel. Popula ia este diversificat n toate sensurile, iar acest lucru este
punctual forte al culturii care a evoluat n ultimii dou sute de ani. Multe rase diferite i
continente au contribuit la dezvoltarea Marii Britanii. Mult lume nu tie faptul c n timpul
Angliei romane, o garnizoan a solda ilor africani condus de Septimus Servius, apra Zidul
lui Hadrian. Marea Britanie modern este alctuit din mai multe elemente, care de multe
ori au o rela ie tensionat, dar, de cele mai multe ori, sunt complementare. De exemplu,
popula ii care n alte pr i au ajuns la conflicte Hinduii cu Musulmanii; Protestan ii cu
Catolicii; Grecii cu Turcii au gsit n cea mai mare parte modalit i panice de convie uire
n Marea Britanie. Atrac ia pentru stabilitate, educa ie bun, asisten medical i o situa ie

Introducere 7

economic bun i-au fcut s depeasc diferen ele ideologice. Unul dintre elurile studiului
nostru este s identificm elementele culturii britanice care au dus la acest efect panic.

Cartea Identiti Culturale Britanice descrie felul n care britanicii se vd pe

ei nsi, cultura pe care ei o genereaz i care la rndul ei i formeaz.



8 Identiti Culturale Britanice



FIGURA 0.1 Magazine sau tarabe cu produse na ionale i suvenire din (a) Anglia, (b)
Sco ia, (c) ara Galilor sau (d) Irlanda

Introducere 9

Pe larg, termenul de cultur nseamn experien comun aceasta rezult din

amestecul de vrste, rase, regiuni, orientare sexual, salarii i interese. Identit ile care
rezult din aceast cultur sunt instabile att personal, ct i cnd fac parte dintr-un colectiv.
Deoarece subiectul studiilor noastre este complex i n continu schimbare, concluziile
fcute pot fi doar ipotetice i generale. Singura constant a studiului este c popula ia insulei
este cine este, datorit faptului c locuiete acolo.

Pentru efectuarea studiului se va ine cont de politica, societatea i evenimentele

culturale contemporane. Acest lucru va face posibil aflarea de informa ii despre trecutul
Britaniei: cine este la conducere, amestecul rasial, numrul popula iei, institu iile de baz,
principalele sporturi, religii i altele. Contrastele ntre trecut i prezent sunt incluse pentru a
completa informa iile despre trecut. Evenimentele recente care au fost alese pentru a fi
analizate ne arat cteva adevruri generale despre Britania n sfera politic, a societ ii i
cultural, i ne face s observm complexitatea societ ii britanice i nevoii sale de a fi

Instituiile britanice

Lista institu iilor de baz din Britania include institu ia oficial de baz
Parlamentul, sistemul juridic care impune legea, un bun sistem al educa iei, Biserica
Anglican, Banca Angliei, bursa de valori, BBC-ul (Corpora ia Britanic de Radio i
Televiuziune). Aceste elemente constituie o societate stabil, dar din analiza lor nu putem
afla cultura lor, motivul investiga iei. Multe alte institu ii influen eaz n mod neoficial,
la fel sau chiar mai mult via a oamenilor. Aici sunt incluse: cursa de canotaj Henley Royal
Regatta, cricketul jucat de lorzi n Londra, cursa de cai Badminton, cursa de iahturi de la
Cowes, meciuri de rugby la stadionul Twickenham, festivalul de muzic pop de la
Glastonbury, festivalul din Edinburgh, carnavalul din Notting Hill. Nici unul din aceste
evenimente nu este institu ional dar fiecare se afl n planurile personale i face parte din
10 Identiti Culturale Britanice

identit ile culturale, unele britanice. Mai exist i alte evenimente sportive i culturale:
meciuri de fotbal, curse de ogari i de cai, concursuri de tras la int, concursuri de snooker,

Townswomens Guild (eveniment organizat de Organiza ia femeilor din Marea Britanie).

Aceste evenimente sunt n opinia fanilor indispensabile dezvoltrii culturale.

Scena cultural semi-oficial britanic este alctuit din organiza ii independente

care reuesc s ob ine diferite merite, care nu ar fi posibile dac ar face parte din alt cultur.
Aici sunt incluse Football and Amateur Athletic Association (Asocia ia de atle i i juctori
de fotbal american amatori), galeriile de art private care i promoveaz pe cei ca Damien
Hirst, Tracey Emin i Martin Creed i operele lor: Oaie n formaldehid, Pat acoperit de
prezervative folosite, i Lumini ntrerupte; editura care a fcut posibil fenomenul Harry
Potter, productori de filme i videoclipuri care au creat seriale precum Brookside i
Hollyoaks, industria publicitar i de design, industria muzical de la studiouri mici la case
de muzic mari, care sunt n cutare constant de noi artiti, cum sunt EMI i HMV. Toate
aceste fac parte din cultura Marii Britanii dei nu au un statut i o finan are oficial.

Tradiii i obiceiuri
O consecin a faptului c na iunea este analizat prin prisma institu iilor este faptul
c multe ramuri culturale rmn neexplorate. Comunit ile culturale nu sunt incluse, moda
adolescentin, cluburile, benzile desenate, pub-urile, lucruri n jurul crora se nvrt vie ile
multor oameni, nu vor fi observate. Nu vor mai exista nenumrate reviste de specialitate.
Cultura britanic contemporan poate fi n eleas mai bine dac observm oamenii de pe
strad. Ei sunt expui culturii, prin diferite elemente de cultur popular cum ar fi muzica,
revistele, seriale i filme, care vor fi explicate n aceast carte.

Obiceiurile, care provine din mai multe substraturi (seriale, tabloide, reality show-uri
(emisiune de televiziune bazat pe fapte reale) precum Big Brother), poate fi mult mai
folositoare n analiz dect elemente culturale moderne(oper, teatru), pentru c este mult
mai rspndit printre publicul tnr i permite analiza caracterului britanic, a spiritului de
motiva ie i al aspira iilor. Cultura contemporan este inclus n programa colar i nu
sus ine c via a este cumul de experien e i tendin e sociale contemporane. Cea mai dinamic
cultur nu se afl n zonele centrale, ci n cele marginale. Urmtoarele acte de cultur au fost

Introducere 11

deja ncorporate n cultura central: n muzic hip hop-ul i rap-ul, n mod sari i
kimono-uri, ca stil dreaduri, piercinguri i tatuaje, n literatur romanele lui Hanif
Kureishi sau ale lui Zadie Smith i poeziile lui Benjamin Zephaniah.

Sistemul de nvmnt 4

Schimbrile rapide din societate i concentrarea pe cultura popular ne permite s

pstrm pacea n lume. Multe dintre aceste schimbri au avut loc n domeniul educa iei.
colile private au influen at mereu societatea britanic prin consolidarea structurii orelor.
Minorit ile etnice din Marea Britanie sunt de prere c din moment ce localnicii prefer
coala de mod veche i acolo se confrunt cu prejudicii rasiste, metoda lor de a merge
nainte este prin nv mntul privat. Acest lucru a dus la foarte mari schimbri pe plan social.
Elevi care apar ineau minorit ii au fost n coli de stat de-a lungul timpului, dar acetia erau
urmaii dinastiilor din toat lumea. De exemplu,n Greyfriars, coala n care nv a Billy
Bunter, era un elev indian, Hurree Jamset Ram Singh, care era un nabab din Bhanipur.
Aceste minorit i etnice au contribuit formarea unu val de mister n jurul colilor de stat
cum ar fi colile Elton i Harrow, ale cror elevi erau mai mult albi, anglo-saxoni, protestan i
i cei cu o motenire de familie. colile private de in majoritatea etnic i acest lucru face
posibil integrarea unor britanici de alt etnie s ocupe func ii importante n toat ara.

Al i factori care determin schimbarea culturii actuale sunt: renegocierea conceptului

familiei, tehnologia modern: calculatoarele, telefonul mobil, internetul, DVD-uri (Digital
Video Disc) .

Via a oamenilor se muleaz dup locul de munc, angajatorii cer s fie tiute din ce n
ce mai multe aptitudini. Studen ii din ziua de azi au cursuri care nu existau n urm cu zece
ani. Licen a poate fi fcut n domenii cum ar fi moda, turism, asisten medical, film, mass
media, fotbal i muzica pop. Pentru o ar att de conservatoare cum este Marea Britanie,
acest lucru a reprezentat o schimbare fundamental.

12 Identiti Culturale Britanice


n acest apogeu al schimbrilor, s fi britanic reprezint cu totul altceva dect ce

reprezenta acum zece ani. Nu in cu uurin piept stereotipurilor. Un sondaj din 1999
destinat tinerilor europeni, a artat c acetia asociaz Marea Britani cu cinci elemente:
poetul Shakespeare, oraul Londra, corpora ia BBC, forma ia The Beatles i Familia Regal.
Aceste simboluri nu mai sunt n actualitate. Nici un cadru surprins al identit ii britanice nu
va iei clar. Solu ia este s ne uitm la nite studii care descriu felul n care triesc oamenii,
i ct de bine descriu felul n care func ioneaz societatea. Unii dintre participants s-au oferit
s analizeze mai ndeaproape unele zone pe cale ei le consider importante. V vom prezenta
patru dintre acestea. Ziarul Sunday Times a publicat un top anual cu cei mai boga i o mie de
britanici. Acest lucru ne ajut s ne dm seama care este traiul lor de via , deoarece bog ia
lor nu reflect doar munca depus i devotamentul fa de aceasta, ci i aspira iile, valorile
i perspectiva lor. Ziarul de duminic The Observer a publicat n 2001 studiul Britain
Uncovered (Dezvluirea Marii Britanii) n care se vorbete despre modul de trai actual:
banii, munca, dragostea, sexul, crimele, tinere ea, rasele, religia, educa ia i ignoran a.
Amestecul eclectic care s-a petrecut pe scena cultural a dus la formarea unor tendin e
importante. Televiziunea Channel 5 (Postul 5) a publicat lista Englezii de la A la Z care a
avut i a ca scop dezvluirea pricipiilor culturii britanice contemporane. Lista Chintesen a
Englez, scris de Julian Bames n 1998, n cadrul romanului su Anglia, Anglia. Vom
analiza fiecare ncercare de descriere a culturii britanice i vom vedea ct de utile pot fi
diferite abordri, dar nainte de asta s observm ciferele evenimentelor politice, sociale,
culturale i sportive, iar anumite incidente ne vor dezvlui modul n care oamenii
reac ioneaz i se informeaz despre cultura din jurul lor.

Introducere 13

Alegerile generale din iunie 2001 au fcut posibil ca Partidul Laburist s aib 413
membrii n Parlament, fat de Partidul Conservator, care a avut doar 166. Aceast majoritate
a fost incredibil, cu 31% mai mare dect a doua victorie zdrobitoare a lui Margaret Thatcher
n 1983. Aa c, n prezent, noul Partid Laburist care a venit la putere n 1997 nconjura i
de euforie, dar prea c aveau totul sub control i aveau sprijinul cet enilor. Putem observa
de ambele d i c i n alegerile i din 2001 i dun 1997, doi candida i independen i, care
nu fceau parte din nici un partid, au fost alei. Acetia au fost Martin Bell n 1997 i Richard
Taylor n 2001. Bell a fost veteran de rzboi, a luptat pentru independen n cadrul unui
manifest decent i l-a nfrnt pe membrul parlamentului Tory Neil Hamilton, care a fost
acuzat de vulgaritate. Taylor, fost singurul care a luptat mpotriva reducerii de personal la
spitalul din oraul su, Kidderminster, i a ctigat cu 17. 630 mai multe voturi! Amndoi s-
au combtut cu mainrii politice sofisticate i foarte scumpe, n timpul victoriilor sale
zdrobitoare. Tinerii nu sunt interesa i de politic, iar pentru a-i atrage de partea lor partidele
le-au trimis mesaje pe telefon n timpul ultimei campanii.

Concluzia este c, chiar dac oamenii au ales i Partidul Laburist i Guvernul, poporul
britanic nu sunt pregti i s i lase via a n minile politicienilor i i vor elibera instant din
func ie dac va fi cazul. Aceast nencredere a poporului britanic n oficiali exist de mult
timp (Disraeli a fost primul prim-ministru al Marii Britanii, n anul 1868), dar i pe
profesionalism (Echipa de rugby Union a fost considerat amatoarea pn n anii 1990). n
trecut, oamenii au preferat s fie condui de amatori nzestra i sau de aristocra i, care
tocmai au motenit averea familiei, deoarece acest lucru l-a fcut (mai rar a fcut-o), s fie
mult mai pu in coruptibil. n zilele de astzi, profesionalismul este acceptat , dar tot sunt
mai nclina i s voteze persoane care nu apar in unui partid electoral.

Pe plan social, cnd Regina-mam a mplinit vrsta de 101 ani n 2001, Familia Regal
s-au adunat s srbtoreasc aceast ocazie fericit. Regina-mam era ndrgit de toate
14 Identiti Culturale Britanice

clasele sociale. Palatul Buckingham nu s-a descurcat prea bine cu rela iile publice pn acum,
dar n prezent ncearc s fie prietenos, astfel c Familia Regal a organizat o edin foto
pentru mass-media. Familia Regal nu s-a ateptat s fie blamat pentru faptul c Prin esa
Margareta era afar, ntr-un scaun cu rotile, din moment ce era foarte bolnav. Familia a fost
considerat inuman i c au violat drepturile Prin esei, prin faptul ca a fost expus pentru
mass-media. Astfel c de la ceea ce trebuia s fie un motiv de srbtoare, s-a ajuns ca anti-
monarhitii s i exprime rezervele cu vedere la monarhie i Familia Regal.

Concluzia tras este: caracterul britanic i-a spus cuvntul. Oamenilor nu le place s
fie juca i din punct de vedere emo ional. Un efect al Reformrii Protestante din Marea
Britanie este faptul c fiecare om are dreptul la o opinie personal. Aceast tradi ie
protestant de independen constituie ideea c to i suntem egali i corec i unii cu al ii,
sprijin opiniile i caracterul independent, nu cel de turm. Oamenii ncearc s i
manipuleze propriile preri, vor s redea libertatea tuturor, ceea ce include i op iunea de a
nu i spune prerea dac nu doreti.


Domul Millennium Experience din Greenwich a fost o ncercare a guvernului de a

cuprinde n interiorul cldirii aspectele identit ii britanice pe care le considerau cele mai

Totodat, trebuia s induc sentimentul de autoritate guvernului care l-a construit

cum a fost i n cazul Marii Expozi ii a Lucrrilor de Industrie a tuturor na iunilor n 1851 la
Palatul de Cristal din cadrul parcului Hyde, n Londra. Tony Blair consider c domul este
triumful ncrederii n fa a cinismului. Guvernul a folosit peste un milion de lire din bugetul
public, pentru a proiecta un cort de distrac ii n Greenwich, care cuprindea mai multe zone,

Introducere 15

inclusiv Zona ncrederii i Zona principal, care, la rndul lor, trebuiau s informeze i
s distreze lumea. Proiectul a fost un dezastru de la bun nceput. Acesta trebuia s fie un
proiect reprezentativ pentru Marea Britanie, ns nu s-a cerut opinia poporului i acetia au
sim it c nu au nici un rol n proiect. Numrul int de vizitatori, 12 milioane, nu s-a
materializat, deoarece au fost doar 5,4 milioane de vizitatori. Oamenii fac o legtur ntre
acest Dom i Proiectul Eden din Cornwall (o biodiversitate imens n interiorul domurilor
geodezice), care ns ncepe s prospere i care a nceput ca un proiect al comunit ii.
Oamenii, n schimb, au considerat c aceast construire a domului reprezint o risip de bani
strni din mai multe orae i nu s-au lsat convini s l viziteze. Cu ct mai mult efii de
guvern au insistat ca acetia s viziteze domul, cu att au fost mai reticen i n a face acest

Insuccesul proiectului subliniaz dou lucruri: n primul rnd, combina ia elementelor

srbtorite a fost anapoda ( zona ncrederii a fost finan at n mare parte de fra ii Hinduja,
care ulterior au czut n dizgra ie); n al doilea rnd , oamenilor nu le place s li se impun,
n special de ctre guvern, ce s fac. Refuzul acceptrii autorit ii guvernului este un aspect
important al identit ii culturale britanice. Oamenii nu sunt amenin a i. (Cntecul Rule
Britania con ine versurile: Britanicii nu vor fi sclavi niciodat, niciodat, niciodat.)
Eecul acestui proiect ilustreaz lipsa puterii guvernului ntr-o ar democrat.

Un indicator al ataamentului fa de locurile natale este mndria sim it n momentul
n care ara iese victorioas ntr-o competi ie sportiv. Dac acest lucru persist, i crete n
ciuda politicii i a integrrii Marii Britanii n Uniunea European, va fi o enigm care va
trebui s fie analizat. ( Ziarul Daily Telegraph nc se refer la Europa ca i tiri din
strintate, chiar dac au trecut 30 de ani de cnd Marea Britanie a devenit membru al
Comunit ii Economice Europene.)

Interesul pentru sport a nflorit n Marea Britanie, i, n mod normal, vedetele sporturilor au
fost idolatrizate: W. G. Grace juctor de cricket al secolului al IX-lea, Roger Bannister
primul atlet care a alergat o mil n patru minute, Linford Christie alergtoarea, i mul i
16 Identiti Culturale Britanice

al ii. Britanicii se bucur cel mai mult de succesul din fotbal i exist suporteri fanatici de
ambele sexe, din toate categoriile sociale, de toate vrstele i din toate regiunile, aa c, de
exemplu, un meci ntre Anglia i Germania are o importan mai mult dect sportiv. nc
exist voioie n ntreaga na iune cnd este amintit victoria 4-2 a Angliei n fa a Germaniei
din 1966. Comentariul Sunt de prere c s-a terminati s-a terminat a devenit un titlu n
ziarul Sun dup meci (i este numele unei faimoase emisiuni despre sport la televiziunea
BBC). Dup ce Anglia a ctigat cu 5-1 n fa a Germaniei n 2001 (a fost nvins cu 1-0 la
Wembley, nou luni mai trziu) au ieit toate duhurile din lamp. Chiar i oamenii pe care
nu i interesa fotbalul au fost bucuroi. Acest lucru s-a vzut i la televizor i radio unde
prezentatorii de tiri nu i-au ascuns fericirea. Acea voce grav care este pentru prezentarea
dezastrelor, nu a fost prezent. Sportul a fcut ca discursul s fie unul logic i pozitiv. Nici
mcar huliganii englezi care s-au plimbat prin oraul Munich dup meci cntnd exist un
singur Bomber Harris nu au fost men iona i de presa britanic. Ziua urmtoare tirile au
fost de la aflarea despre comportamentul huliganilor la afiarea triumfului, iar c iva
repezi i nu trebuie s distrag aten ia de la adevrata victorie.


Felul n care tirile sunt prezentate dezvluie multe caracteristici ale cititorilor i
telespectatorilor britanici. Refugia ii i solicitan ii de azil au dezvluit diferen e de atitudine
a poporului britanic fa de strini i no iuni generale despre ce semnific a fi britanic. Fostul
lider al Partidului Conservator, William Hague a pus refugia ilor denumirea de solicitan i
fali de azil, cu scopul de a fi ndrgit de ctre sus intorii si. n realitate, att opozi ia, ct
i sus intorii au fost enerva i. Pentru primii, aceasta a fost o dovad pur de rasism
conservator, iar cei din urm au considerat c este la fel de lipsit de compasiune la fel ca i
predecesoarea lui, Margaret Thatcher.

Evenimentele de aceste tip pot face o na iune latent s izbucneasc. Acest lucru se petrece
rapid, iar ziarele pot sus ine inamicul peste noapte. n 1981, ziarul Sun a intensificat ura
pentru argentinieni (numi i peiorativ the Argies) n timpul conflictului asupra insulelor
Introducere 17

Falkland. Cei mai mul i dintre cititorii ziarului nici nu tiau unde se afl insulele Falkland,
dar au rspuns invita iei xenofobice. Liderul irakian Saddam Hussein, liderul srb Sblobodan
Milosevic sau prim-ministrul din Zimbabwe Robert Mugabe sunt denigra i instant, ceea ce
indic o xenofobie gata s ias la suprafa n rndul publicului britanic. Chiar i n cadrul
galei anuale Royal Variety Performance din 2001, a fost un comedian a crui moment s-a
bazat pe ura englezilor fa de francezi. Antipatia fa de alte na iuni este prezent mai ales
n cazul genera iei veche, n timp ce tinerii i ndreapt aten ia spre Europa i SUA.

Situa iile de mai sus descriu ct de dificil este Marea Britanie. Nu se poate generaliza
pentru c n cadrul Marii Britanii exist o mul ime de paradoxuri. n general, este o ar
conformist i conservatoare, dar n acelai timp este ntr-o continu schimbare. Este
condus de Parlament, dar vocea poporului este puternic. Chiar dac exist monarhie
majoritatea popula iei este republican, care genereaz cultur popular, cultur superioar,
dar i filistinism i huliganism. Circumscrip ia popula iei este n cretere. Majoritatea
popula iei este caucazian, dar 6,8% apar in unei minorit i etnice cei mai mul i fiind
caraibieni, africani i indieni. Aceste contradic ii i tensiuni sunt greu de acceptat i este mult
mai uor s vorbim despre britanici, sau despre identit ile la care ne referim n titlu.


Exist discu ii n care se afirm c Marea Britanie este mereu la fel. Sub straturile lumii
postmoderniste, rela iile publice, combina iile stilistice i multe altele, dezvoltarea urban
este aceeai peste tot. n centrul comercial Trafford din Manchester exist culturi din toat
lumea: exist art trompe loueil (care induce publicul n eroare), statui greceti, mulaje Art
Deco, picturi murale Whistleresque, fresc vene ian, o machet a pun ii, a mobilierului de
pe punte i a brcilor de salvare de pe Titanic(pentru incontientul cumprtorilor, care va
proiecta imagini cu clasele sociale bune dar i cu tinerii din marele film Titanic). Exist de
18 Identiti Culturale Britanice

asemenea o statuie a lui Sammy Davis Jr! Acest mall, precum i altele asemenea, care mbin
diferite culturi din lume (sau kitsch?), sunt puncte de interes att pentru tinerii britanici, ct
i pentru cei mai n vrst. Aceti oameni sunt consumatori a ceea ce sunt fcu i s
cumpere, sau sunt britanici cu identit i multiculturale i se individualizeaz prin
cumprturi? Acest lucru este clarificat de aceast dezbatere.

Mai important dect influen ele globale este rolul pe care britanicii l au n mass-media
autohton. n ziua de azi, totul este prezent la televizor, problemele legate de moralitate i
etic, de la homosexualitate la chirurgie plastic, eutanasie i avort, sunt ilustrate n diverse
seriale. Toat lumea este expus, toate organiza iile Marii Britanii au departamentul de
Rela ii Publice (PR) pentru a ne informa. Politicienii sunt nevoi i s termine lucrul i s
asculte The Six Oclock News (tirile de la ora ase). Minitrii trebuie s ac ioneze rapid, s
par hotr i, nu neaprat n elep i, n ceea ce privete analiza. Mediul nconjurtor
influen eaz mesajele, nimeni nu poate sus ine c nu este afectat de diferitele zgomote.
Oamenii au mpr it zgomotele pe categorii: pe care le toreleaz, pe care le accept i ce
elemente culturale sau anticulturale aleg pentru a se proteja de lumea exterioar.


Trebuie s fim aten i la limbajul folosit. n toate discu iile despre na ionalitate,
identitate sau afaceri aflate n desfurare, limbajul nu este niciodat unul inocent. Alegerea
cuvintelor depinde de perspectiva vorbitorului. De exemplu, cuvntul englez foreign
(strin) este mult mai ostil dect sinonimele de natur romanic, francezul tranger sau
portughezul estrangeiro, i chiar dect germanicul auslnder. Latenta xenofobie
britanic se poate remarca n titlul ofensiv Johnny Foreigner (Johnny strinul) al unui
trabloid. n capitolul Limbaj i Etnicitate se vorbete mai mult despre acest subiect, dar
acum s ne gndim la impactul limbajului asupra rela iilor na ionale i culturii: galezii
Introducere 19

trieaz i reneg, sco ienii contracareaz, reduc la tcere, previn, iar irlandezii nu sunt nici
ei u de biseric. Cu alte cuvinte, cele trei na iuni auxiliare din Insulele Britanice au un
limbaj vulgar n compara ie cu cel care domin peste tot, astfel c prejudicii na ionale sunt
criptate n limba englez.

Cu aceste gnduri n cap, vom analiza cele patru studii la care ne-am referit mai sus,
n care, n fiecare dintre ele sunt folosite cuvinte cheie sau o list, pentru a scoate n eviden
trsturile poporului britanic.

Topul persoanelor bogate realizat de ziarul

Sunday Times

Statutul financiar este important pentru perspectiva cultural, sus ine ziarul Sunday Times,
iar la fel afirm i F. Scott Fitzgerald: boga ii sunt diferi i. Bog ia influen eaz cultura,
chiar dac sunt filistini n mod individual, boga ii colec ioneaz obiecte de art. Timp de
mai multe decenii, Maurice Saatchi a cumprat lucrri ale artitilor britanici contemporani.
Britanicii se diferen iaz mai degrab prin extravagan a flamboaiant a gusturilor, dect prin
discernmntul lor. Actri a Ruby Wax a ndrumat telespectatorii prin casa diferit a
Ducesei de York n cadrul unei emisiuni televizate. Identitatea lor este definit prin
intermediul banilor pe care i au, datorit crora nu fac compromise i nu ntmpin piedicile
pe care le ntmpin sracii adic restul rii. Majoritatea persoanelor din a doua categorie
sunt bugetari profesori, asisten i sociali, angaja ii potei, func ionari publici persoane
care sunt definite prin importan a slujbei lor. Boga ii, ca o comunitate, nu vor declara
aproape niciodat c principalul lor scop este serviciul public. n topul celor o mie cei mai
boga i oameni, fcut de ziarul Sunday Times, sunt inclui patruzeci i unu de persoane care
i-au construit averea prin intermediul companiilor de mod, fiind incluse i nume cunoscute
precum Joseph, French Connection (FCUK) i Russell & Bromley. Scopurile acestor
companii sunt crearea continu de bog ii de care vor beneficia familiile cumprtorilor i
pltirea salariilor la proprii angaja i, i nu serviciul public.
20 Identiti Culturale Britanice

n urma exploziei bulei Dotcom din 2001, banii vechi au continuat s circule. Ducele
de Westminster care de ine foarte mult pmnt (300 de hectare n Mayfair i Belgravia), este
cel mai bogat om din Marea Britanie. Acest lucru nu presupune ns c mediocritatea Marii
Britanii este instabil. Pentru realizarea acestei liste s-a inut cont i de averile motenite n
acel an, ns doar 241 de persoane din ea i-au ob inut averea pe aceast cale. Este un procent
mult mai mic dect n anul 1988, cnd a fost redactat prima par aceast list, n acea
perioad 70% din cele 200 de persoane care alctuiau lista pe atunci, i-au ob inut averea
prin motenire. Acest lucru reprezint o schimbare major n ceea ce privete cultura din
punctul de vedere al averilor motenite. Schimbrile pe plan financiar contribuie la
schimbrile sociale i culturale. Ziarul Sunday Times se concentreaz asupra banilor i nu
prea dezvluie via a acestora, iar faptul c majoritatea persoanelor de pe list au nume
cunoscute, indic faptul c fac parte dintr-o comunitate social, precum i dintr-o ierarhie
financiar britanic.

Ziarul The Observer: Dezvluirea

Marii Britanii 6

n timp ce ziarul Sunday Times dezvluie cadre dintr-un segment al societ ii britanice n
care principalul scop este financiar, i principala trstur a identit ii este tot de aceast
natur, articolul Britain Uncovered al ziarului The Observer sus ine cultura contemporan
dintr-un punct de vedere sociologic i acoper o gam mai variat. Articolul include un
sondaj de opinie (69% sunt mpotriva cstoriei ntre partenerii de acelai sex, cea mai
vizitat ar european este Spania, doar 19% nu ar folosi sistemul medical privat sau nu i-
ar educa copii la coli private chiar dac ar avea banii necesari) sau un sondaj cu privire la
comportamentul n societate (37% ar pstra un portofel pe care l-au gsit,cu 200 de lire n
interior). De asemenea subiecte discutate mai sunt activit ile ntreprinse de-a lungul vie ii,
de la problematica adolescen la pensionare, opinii legate de munc, droguri, educa ie i
excentricitate. Dou paragrafe prezint spiritul na iunii n alte cuvinte, decderea religiei
institu ionale n favoarea loca urilor Domnului i atrac ia fa de tinerii musulmani ai
islamului tradi ional.

Introducere 21

Ca i un barometrul al snt ii na iunii, acest supliment este folositor. Societatea

este n continu schimbare, dar standardele oamenilor sunt aproximativ acelea i cu cele din
trecut. De exemplu, jurnalistul Burhan Wazir critic severitatea modului n care a fost crescut
n Pakistan, dar diferite reportaje sus in c tinerii musulmani reu esc c combine religia lor
cu libertatea de a merge n club, dac asta i doresc. n filmul Orient n occident (1999)
sunt prezentate acest fel de probleme. Excentricitatea sus ine imposibilitatea de a cataloga
oamenii. Autoarea cr ii despre via a n suburbie, Park and Ride (2001) Miranda Sawyer,
ntlne te un prizonier care se simte ame it deoarece a luat dou E-uri ( tablete ecstasy).
n opinia ei, excentricitatea men ine cultura nfloritoare i face ca Marea Britanie s fie
interesant, deoarece o face s fie imprevizibil. Modalitatea de prezentare a ziarului The
Observer nf i eaz o imagine real a Marii Britanii, spre deosebire de bro urile turistice.
Aceasta nu este bazat n totalitate doar pe factori din mediul nconjurtor i interviuri bazate
pe chestionare, ns ntrebrile i mai ales rspunsul la acestea sunt limitate. Persoanele care
au fost chestionate nu rspund ntotdeauna ntr-un mod sincer, lucrurile ciudate, bizare, etc.
fac ca ziarul s se vnd ntr-un numr ct mai mare, a adar realizm c via a nu este la fel
ca cea descris. n general ne este prezentat o imagine de ansamblu, ncadrat n limitele
impuse de ziarul liberal The Observer, ziarul de stnga.

Canalul 5 Englezii de la A la Z
n 2001, Ian Russel a realizat un program de televiziune pentru Channel 5, numit
Englezii de la A la Z. Cu ajutorul a douzeci i cinci de subtitluri, creatorii programului au
observat diferite aspecte acontemporane din Marea Britanie. Subiectele incluse n lista lor
au fost aleatorii i eclectice, iar tonul folosit a fost unul obraznic, iar un exemplu prejudiciile
aduse de taximetri tii din Nord i Sud, unii altuia. Cu toate acestea, telespectatorii s-au
identificat cu multe dintre aspectele prezentate n cadrul programului. Lista este reprodus
n Tabelul 0.2 i poate fi folosit pentru un exerci iu de gndire rapid n cadrul unei clase de
elevi. Majoritatea termenilor sunt u or de n eles, dar unii dintre ei trebuie s fie explica i:
dou dintre delicatesele din nordul rii sunt ciocolata Mars nvelit n aluat i prjit la
cuptor, i, mazrea fluorescent; britanicii sunt cei mai mari consumatori de puzzle pe cap

22 Identiti Culturale Britanice

de persoan, a existat o tentativ de a introduce kiltul n vestimenta ia brba ilor; toaleta cu

soclu a fost inventat n Marea Britanie de ctre Thomas Crapper n secolul al XIX-lea; n

1963 au fost vndute 16 milioane de cr i po tale Saucy Postcards care ilustrau

caricaturi obraznice, dar n prezent compania nu mai exist; Certificarea X a filmelor care
le-a fcut un fel de fructe interzise, a ncetat s mai fie aplicat n 1981; huliganii sunt
infractori, caricaturistul Tony Husband s-a rzbunat pe ho ii care l-au prdat prin caricaturile
Yobs (huligani), desenate pentru revista Private Eye timp de cincisprezece ani; trecerea de
pietoni alb-negru de tip zebr a fost preluat de rile din ntreaga lume.

TABELUL 0. 2 Englezii de la A la Z

Alcool NorthSouth divide (diviziunea dintre

Nord i Sud)

Bingo Older people (Vrstnicii)

Cockney (Londonez) Pantomim

Dom Queue (Rnduri de a teptare)

Excentricitate Routemaster (Autobuzul


Food (mncare) Saucy postcards ( cr i

-ciocolat Mars, mazre po tale care ilustrau caricaturi obaznice)

Gnomi Thatcher (Prim-ministrul Margaret Thatcher)

Introducere 23

Housing crisis (Criz imobiliar) Union Flag (Steagul Marii Britanii)

Inventatori Victorie

Jigsaw (Puzzle) Weather (Clim)

Kilt X-rated (Certificare X)

Lavatory (Toalet) Yobs (Huligani)

Maniere Zebra crossings (Treceri de pietoni)

Sursa: Englezii de la A la Z, Channel 5, Martie 2001

Programul a fost un proiect comic, ns a eviden iat i puncte de vedere relevante, mai
exact, a celor trei persoane intervievate: un sco ian, un irlandez i un englez. Primii doi au
tiu care este ziua n care este srbtorit ocrotitorul rii lor (Sfntul Andrei se srbtore te
n Sco ia pe 30 noiembrie, iar Sfntul Patrick se srbtore te n Irlanda pe 17 martie), dar
englezul nu a tiut c Sfntul Gheorghe se srbtore te pe 23 aprilie. Acest lucru subliniaz
faptul c englezii i cunosc cel mai pu in propria na ionalitate i c se afl ntr-o criz de

n cadrul programului au fost incluse i afirma iile autorului Ross Benson, care constau
n faptul c britanicii i mascheaz violen a cu ajutorul bunelor maniere. El sus ine c pe
durata Rzboiului Malvinelor, argentinienii nu au reu it s ajung la un acord cu diploma ii
24 Identiti Culturale Britanice

britanici. armul lor te face s li te supui, iar dac nu o faci, te ucid. Programul s-a
concentrat pe cele mai revolttoare aspecte ale Marii Britanii. Majoritatea persoanelor care
au aprut n cadrul programului sunt excentrice Regele Perlelor, un colec ionar de pitici de
grdin, un brbat care a strbtut ara pe jos i care a trit ntr-o pe ter.

Obstacolele ntmpinate de aceast abordare au fost: limita de timp n care emisiunea

trebuia s se ncadreze, faptul c lucrurile bizare prindeau mai bine la public dect cele
ordinare era prezentat o Mare Britanie ie it din tipare, din care lipseau toate aspectele
ordinare ale vie ii britanice munca, sportul, familia, peisajele, dar i elementul care
influen eaz cel mai mult cultura britanic: televiziunea. Pe lng c emisiunea a fost un
succes, aceasta a transmis i un mesaj datorit abordrii cu totul deosebite, care ridica n
slvi excentricitatea, exact cum i doreau britanicii s fie vzu i.

Anglia, Anglia
n romanul Anglia, Anglia scris de Julian Barnes n 1998, un afacerist de succes vrea
s transforme Insula Wight ntr-un parc tematic, deoarece astfel turi tii nu vor mai fi neoi i
s strbat drumurile de la Palatul Buckingham la ora ul Stratford-upon-Avon, la ora ul
Chester, i a a mai departe. Proiectul su de afaceri se numea 50 de chintesen e ale
poporului britanic. Unele dintre aceste lucruri sunt men ionate n spirit de glum i nu
trebuie pus la ndoial care sunt cele mai importante, dar acestea fac parte dintr-o perspectiv
comun i vor fi familiare att celor care triesc pe continentul Regatului Unit, ct i celor
din afara acestuia.

TABELUL 0. 3 Chintesen ele poporului britanic


Familia Regal Taxiurile londoneze

Turnul cu ceas Big Ben/ Palatul Westminster Plria melon

Fotbal Club Manchester United Seriale clasice difuzate la televizo

Introducere 25

Clasele sociale Oxford/ Cambridge

Pub-uri Magazinul Harrods

Mcleandrul Autobuze etajate/ Autobuze ro ii

Robin Hood i ceata lui Ipocrizia

Cricket-ul Grdinritul

Stncile Albe de la Dover Perfidie/ falsitate

Imperialism Ornamente de lemn

Steagul Marii Britanii Homosexualitatea

Snobismul Alice n ara Minunilor

Imnul Na ional al Regatului Unit Winston Churchill

Corpora ia Britanic de radiodifuzare (BBC) Lan ul de magazine Marks &

26 Identiti Culturale Britanice

Captul de Vest districtul comercial Btlia Angliei

i de divertisment al Londrei

Ziarul Times Francis Drake

Shakespeare Mar ul Culorilor

Csu e din stuf Vicreal

Ceaiul/ Ceaiul-crem din Devonshire Regina Victoria

Stonehenge Micul Dejun

Indiferen a/ Curajul Berea/ berea cald

Cumprturi Sensibilitate

Marmelad Frigiditate

Clra i din Garda Regal Stadionul Wembley

Turnul Londrei Biciuirea

Introducere 27

colile Publice Nesplarea

Lenjerie murdar Magna Carta

(Marea Cart a Libert ilor)


Sursa: Julian Barnes, Anglia, Anglia (1998)

Dac analizm lista, observm c sunt incluse monumente, nume istorice, roadele
imagina iei i cteva ceremonialuri. Majoritatea oamenilor se vor identifica cu aceste
chintesen e, chiar dac nu toate sunt valabile pentru fiecare.

Monarhia este un subiect foarte discutat, de i majoritatea popula iei nici mcar nu au vzut-
o pe regin n persoan. Monarhia este sus inut de persoane care apar in tuturor claselor
sociale, n special de vrstnici, dar nu i membrii casei regale care nu contribuie cu nimic la
bunstarea Marii Britanii. Ei sus in c ini iativa moral a fost menit Casei Regale. Rata
divor urilor din cadrul prin ilor i anume 3 din 4, este mult mai grav dect media na ional
de 1 din 3. n ciuda acestei dezamgiri, 70% din popula ia Marii Britanii sus in c prefer
monarhia ca form de guvernmnt i nu doresc s devin o republic, dar 68% sunt de
prere c n decursul a cincizeci de ani monarhia nu va mai exista.

Cnd vorbim despre seriale clasice, majoritatea persoanelor se gndesc la Saga

Familiei Forsyte, sau la adapta iile fcute dup Jane Austen, dar pot la fel de probabil s
includ i serialele lor preferate de televiziune, cum ar fi Blackadder, Fawlty Towers i
Rising Damp, precum i seriale poli iste cum ar fi Inspectorul Morse i Crimele din
Midsomer. Cultura britanic se bazeaz n principal pe zona rural. John Mayer afirm c
berea cald, cricket-ul i domni oarele pe biciclete sunt esen ele poporului englez. Acestea
28 Identiti Culturale Britanice

scene din zona rural sunt incluse n serialele care tocmai au fost men ionate. Filmate n
cadrul unor loca ii magnifice, acestea redau ordinea i lini tea unor peisaje idilice ale cror
ape au fost tulburate de misterioasele crime care s-au petrecut n acele locuri.

Datorit contextului nostalgic pe care l de ine romanul, acesta con ine i ntmplri
nedorite. Victorii din trecut au fost umbrite de vicreala, frigiditatea i

cumprturile din zilele noastre i cuprinde, mai mult dect orice list, eviden ieri ale
snobismului, ipocriziei i perfidiei, trsturi caracteristice ala poporului britanic. Aceast
perspectiv este una de domeniul trecutului, aceste lucruri fiind caracteristice n urm cu
jumtate de secol. Dintr-un punct de vedere, Marea Britanie, afectat de propriul trecut, nu
reprezint interes pentru tinerii britanici, care axa i pe cltorii prin Europa, muzic i

Toate studiile au un lucru n comun: admira ia pentru individualismul britanic. Ele
pre uiesc opozi ia, scepticismul, incapacitatea de a se conforma, lansarea tendin elor n
domeniul modei i nu respectarea celor deja existente i individualitatea destul de puternic
pentru a ie i n eviden a poporului britanic. Excentricitatea reprezint mai mult de att i
este mult mai apreciat dect individualismul. Fr ndoial c ntr-o ar n care
excentricitatea este n plin dezvoltare, trebuie s existe de asemenea i toleran pentru
opozi ie sau pentru schimbare, iar acest lucru se gse te din plin n Marea Britanie.
Protestatarii pentru mediul nconjurtor, precum Swampy, au devenit datorit expunerii n
mass-media, eroi na ionali. Ken Livingstone a ie it primarul Londrei, cu toate c guvernul a
depus toate eforturile posibile pentru a evita acest lucru. Ar fi bine dac Marea Britanie ar
putea s furnizeze diversitate, pe care apoi s o exporte i altor ri democratice post-
industriale. Mul i oameni i pun ntrebarea: Ct va mai rezista Marea Britanie ca o oaz de
diversitate i toleran n fa a omogenizrii globale?


Introducere 29

O metod pragmatic prin care pot fi analizate identitatea britanic i aspira iile
oamenilor de rnd este prin examinarea eroilor pe care i i-au creat. Ace ti eroi dezvluie
foarte multe lucruri despre personalitatea creatorului lor. Eroii reflect ce doresc oamenii s
devin, sau ce admir ace tia n alte persoane. Ca i categorie, eroii reprezint valori
culturale, dar, aceast lume cinic a creat i anti-eroi sau personaje negative, precum Nasty
Nick Bateman din emisiunea Big Brother i Anne Robinson din concursul televizat The
Weakest Link (Veriga slab). Genera iile anterioare au admirat personalit ile i politicienii
de elit, precum Winston Churchill sau Macmillan, dar n ziua de azi predomin domeniul
sportiv. Mul i sportivi foarte cunoscu i ies din aria lor de confort, sportul, pentru a aprea n
diferite reclame televizate: boxerul Frank Bruno, fotbali tii Gary Lineker i Vinnie Jones,
vsla ul olimpic Steve Redgrave i juctorul de snooker Steve Davis. Steve Redgrave a
c tigat apte medalii pentru vslit la Jocurile Olimpice n ani consecutivi. n anul 2001 a
parcurs Maratonul de la Londra n ase ore deoarece mult lume i-a pus piedici. Deoarece el
este un erou na ional, el reprezint un model de tenacitate i determinare, umor i stabilitate
la care se pot raporta chiar i genera ia MTV (Televiziune Muzical).

Eroii zilelor noastre sunt ale i de ctre tineri, astfel c personalit i precum Carol
Vorderman i Chris Evans, dar i sportivi, afaceri ti i comercian i devin reprezentativi, ceea
ce semnific c n ziua de azi exist o gam mult mai variat de eroi. Pentru a analiza acest
fenomen, vom acorda o aten ie mai detaliat unor personalit i marcante.

Prinesa Diana

Un erou fr voie sau mai bine zis, eroin a fost Prin esa Diana. Ea a fost nscut
ntr-o familie privilegiat, fiica lui Earl Spencer, iar dup nunta ca n pove ti cu prin ul
Charles, a putut alege ntre mai multe palate. A devenit un model vestimentar, inutele ei
fiind foarte copiate. Cealalt calitate a ei a fost compasiunea sa pentru persoanele infectate
cu virusul HIV (care erau bolnave de SIDA) i opozi ia sa cu vedere la minele de teren o
arm militar al unui complex industrial din care fcea i ea parte. Probabil datorit acestui
lucru, oamenii au considerat c opozi ia ei reprezenta principiile sale.
0 Identiti Culturale Britanice

A fost o eroin paradoxal, deoarece averea sa i-a oferit posibilitatea de a se ndeprta

de oameni, dar nu a fcut-o. S-a fcut iubit poporului britanic, att de mult nct Tony Blair
a capitulat politic la nmormntarea acesteia, numind-o Prin esa Inimilor.

FIGURA 0.2 Omagii florale la poarta Palatului Kensington imediat dup moartea Prin esei Diana

Prin esa Diana a reprezentat un moment de cotitur pentru monarhia britanic. Familia
Regal a interpretat gre it starea de spirit a publicului datorit reac iei acestuia, atunci cnd
s-a aflat c Prin esa a murit ntr-un accident de ma in n anul 1997.

Oamenii tiau c Prin esa Diana era n conflict cu Familia Regal datorit interviului
luat Prin esei de ctre Martin Bashir, a a c, atunci cnd casa regal i-a organizat o
nmormntare discret, ferit de ochii publicului, ace tia s-au sim it indigna i. A fost un doliu
na ional, deoarece Prin esa Diana avea acelea i valori precum restul popula iei: compasiune
pentru bolnavi ntr-o lume lipsit de empatie n timpul conducerii lui Margaret Thatcher;
frustrare fa de restric iile impuse societ ii de ctre ierarhie; deschidere fa de nevoia
Marii Britanii de a deveni o ar multicultural, un lucru necesar pentru ca femeile s
dep easc condi iile impuse de cstorie i pentru ca s i sus in libertatea sexual de i,
cea din urm era un privilegiu alocat claselor sociale superioare i i era greu s se ascund
de paparazzi. nmormntarea sa a fost una dintre problemele periodice, nea teptate, dar care
a reu it s trezeasc un sentiment de solidaritate poporului britanic, ca i cum a reu it s ias

Introducere 31

din conservatorismul pasiv specific lor i au realizat ct de mult le pas de unele probleme.
S-a produs o u oar schimbare n starea de spirit a poporului i la felul cum decurgeau
rela iile dintre oameni.

Trebuie specificat c i mul i britanici au rmas indiferen i fa de aceast expunere

public a suferin ei. Ei fac diverse speculri, fiind amuza i de golul emo ional al celor care
idolatrizeaz o figur public, dar au fost ului i de exprimarea emo ional a poporului
britanic. Putem trage concluzia c n Marea Britanie se afl multe firi umane opuse i de
asemenea c mul i eroi britanici sunt mult mai recunoscu i n strintate dect la ei acas.
Imaginea de sfnt a Prin esei Diana a putut fi vzut n filmul francez Amelie din 2001
(regizat de Jean-Pierre Jeunet) n cadrul cruia puteau fi urmrite ac iunile caritabile pe care
le-a fcut aceasta. Filmul a nceput s prind contur n momentul n care acesta urmrea un
reportaj n Paris, despre moartea Dianei.

Familia Beckham

Doi eroi contemporani ai genera iei tinere sunt David Beckham, juctorul echipei de
fotbal Manchester United i cpitanul echipei Angliei, i so ia sa Victoria, sau, cum mai sunt
ei numi i, Posh i Becks, sunt imagini iconice i sunt inu i tot timpul sub observa ia de ctre
mass-media, fani, dar i de cei care i denigreaz. n cartea Burchill on Beckham (2001),
Jullie Burchill afirm c David are fa a asemntoare Prin esei Diana... ( i) are trsturi
aristocratice, n timp ce Victoria este foarte comun. Cuplul a aprut n emisiunea de
divertisment Big Impressions prezentat de Alistair McGowan pe postul BBC1. Posh era
numele de scen al Victoriei n cadrul trupei Spice Girls. Acum, ei sunt adevrate exemple
prin ii se tem c adolescen ii care sunt fanii lui Posh, i vor copia piercing-ul din buz i
c bie ii vor copia tunsoarea lui Becks.

32 Identiti Culturale Britanice

Amndoi au propriile lor locuri de munc, iar toat aten ia de care au parte din partea
mass-mediei pur i simplu se ntmpl. Chiar dac totul pare a fi spontan i natural, totul
este o campanie de imagine public. n luna august din anul 2001, n presa britanic au fost
scrise 450 de articole despre Victoria Beckham, iar acest lucru nu are cum s fie un accident.
Becks i-a tatuat numele fetei sale, Brooklin, pe spate, astfel nct s poate fi vzut de
fotografi. Fiind un cuplu ambi ios, ei i-au dat repede seama c via a n aten ia publicului
semnific un cont la banc plin, a a c au lucrat intens la crearea imaginii lor publice.

Fenomenul Posh i Becks este orchestrat de ctre public, chiar dac este dependent
de mass-media. Chiar dac majoritatea noii culturi const n iconoclasm, acte de rebeliune
i anarhie, faima lor fiind orchestrat de companiile de rela ii publice. Posh i Becks fac
parte dintr-un proces de transfer al puterii i avu iei din genera ie n genera ie. n 2001, ei au
plecat cu elicopterul de la vila lor din Cheshire pn la casa Lordului Leverhulme pentru
licita ia unor lucruri personale ale acestuia, unde au cheltuit 2,1 milioane de lire pe mobil
de epoc. Efectul pe care au dorit s l ob in a fost cel de a i ntri pozi ia de colec ionari
de antichit i de elit, s transmit fanilor faptul c i trecutul este valoros, i s se transforme
afacerile altor persoane n c tiguri proprii, pentru a le asigura viitorul genera iilor urmtoare.

FIGURA 0.3 David i Victoria Beckham sunt cel mai popular subiect n mass-media
britanic i au eclipsat total Familia Regal din punct de vedere al popularit ii

( Popperfoto/Reuters)

Introducere 33

Prin urmare, ei consolideaz bog ia din trecut a Marii Britanii, n timp ce fac parte
din alte proiecte (muzic pop i fotbal), pe care le vd ca tranzitorii i efemere.

Celebritile mass-media

Un alt tnr erou contemporan, a crui carier a fost n plin ascensiune datorit
sus inerii mass-media, este buctarul tnrul buctar Jamie Oliver, care face totul n lumina
reflectoarelor. Redacteaz articole i pentru Revista Times, cltore te la New York, s-a
cstorit, se distreaz cu prietenii, realizeaz campanii publicitare pentru diferite produse. El
de ine un talent nativ, dar mult mai important este sus inerea pe care o are din partea
campaniilor publicitare, care l vinde publicului ca un erou al mass-mediei i este
admirat pentru fizicul su, stilul su i modul n care se prezint. Via a lui se desf oar n
aten ia publicului, fr a exista momente intime. Tricourile lui sunt mereu ca scoase din
cutie la fel ca i el i toat lumea i le dore te. Este ncreztor n propriile for e, nu a avut
niciodat o depresie sau momente de introspec ie, dar n schimb mereu este vesel i drgu
fa de ceilal i. n realitate, o asemenea persoan nu exist. Fr ndoial c are abilit i n
buctrie, dar cea mai mare abilitate a sa este auto-promovarea. El este subiectul principal
al reclama iilor i controverselor n diferite publica ii precum ziarul Guardian, dar acest
lucru i confer c tiguri financiare i este, n mod evident, eroul renascentist al secolului
XXI, pe care oamenii l admir.


Tinerii din ziua de azi au considera ie fa de cei care reu esc s se realizeze pe plan
economic, comercial i financiar. Afaceristul Richard Branson este admirat pentru c este
autodidact, bogat i destul de nebun nct s fac sporturi extreme precum zborul aerostatic
i powerboat-racing (sport nautic extrem unde ambarca iuni cu motor de capacitate mare se
ntrec pe ap). Acesta a realizat numeroase proiecte pentru tineri, cum ar fi CD-uri (discuri
audio), videoclipuri, DVD-uri (discuri video), prin intermediului propriului lan de magazine
34 Identiti Culturale Britanice

Virgin Megastores. Tinerii i admir ambi ia de ine de asemenea i o linie aerian i una
de transport ferovial cu toate c locuitorii ora ului sunt nencreztori n capacitatea sa de

Anita Roddick, fondatoarea lan ului de magazine cosmetice Body Shop, este i ea
admirat pentru principiile sale, cum ar fi faptul c nu sprijin testarea produselor cosmetice
pe animale. Datorit faptului c este o femeie ntreprinztoare, ea este o fire inovativ i este
un model pentru multe femei tinere care vor s fie puternice.

Ellen MacArthur, din Derbyshire, a devenit peste noapte o eroin a anilor 2000 la
vrsta de patruzeci i doi de ani. Ea a luat locul doi n cursa de vslit cu o singur mn n
jurul lumii, dedicat iachtmanilor, numit Vendee Globe. Acest lucru a fost o realizare
fantastic, iar lucrul care a atins coarda sensibil a popula iei a fost faptul c ea nu a avut
rela ii, nu era bogat i nu era avid dup publicitate, dar era independent, competent i i-
a fcut singur un renume. La nceput a fost instructor de naviga ie n Hull, dup care a trit
pe un vas n Fran a, i tot ce a realizat a fost pe propriile merite. Din acest motiv, i pentru
c avea o conexiune cu mediul nautic, a atras aten ia att tinerilor ct i btrnilor.

Reality show

Puterea televiziunii n Marea Britanie este att de mare nct aceasta poate crea eroi,
pe care s i vnd popula iei, n loc s lase popula ia s i aleag singurii eroii. Acest
lucru este realizat prin intermediul documentarelor. Publicul este un voyeur (persoan care
urmre te pe ascuns un spectacol) din spatele scenei al audi iilor, etc. Oamenii au impresia
c fac parte din realizarea emisiunii i se amgesc c este o emisiune real, cu att mai mult
cu ct le ofer sentimentul c de in controlul. n 2001, re eaua de televiziune ITV, emisiunea
Pop Stars a dat startul audi iilor pentru tinerii ambi io i care i doreau s fac parte dintr-o
trup muzical. Programul a reprezentat o ntreag mascarad prin intermediul unei
competi ii de talente, iar trupa care a c tigat, HearSay, a fost prezentat ca un produs
comercial care a c tigat pe merit. Una din a teptrile programului a fost ca publicul s
ignore detaliile procesului de produc ie (editarea, promovarea i regizarea). Trupa a fost

Introducere 35

prezentat pe durata de mai multe sptmni publicului i spectatorii au fost ncnta i de

acest lucru, iar prin acest mod au asigurat succesul financiar al televiziunii.

Emisiunea a fost de tip reality show (emisiune a crei scenariu se bazeaz pe fapte
sau situa ii reale), prin intermediul creia via a de zi cu zi se transform ntr-o telenovel i
indirect, au mprt it acelea i triri. ntregul sistem preliminar i vntoarea de talente a
fost o escrocherie prin faptul c nlocuia un sistem haotic, n care arti tii reu esc s se fac
cunoscu i sau dispar, n func ie de norocul lor, unde talentul este tot ce conteaz. Cea mai
talentat cntrea a fost considerat Claire Freeland, supervizor al centrului de informare
din Glasgow. Verdictul emisiunii realizat de productorul Nigel Lythgoe a fost pentru voce
nota 10, iar pentru aspectul fizic nota 3, iar verdictul a fost excluderea ei din trup.

Emisiunea s-a axat pe captarea publicului asupra unui produs inovator, care va duce la
vnzarea discurilor muzicale, la mbog irea productorilor i a membrilor trupei i la
sabotarea normelor consumatorilor care aleg s o urmreasc. Emisiunea HearSay a fost
nominalizat i n cadrul galei Royal Variety Show n 2001. Acest format a prins foarte bine
la public i datorit acestui lucru, productorul Simon Cowell a realizat emisiunea Pop Idol
pentru aceea i re ea de televiziune, ITV, dar n cadrul creia se cuta un artist solo.


Multe persoane au devenit nelini tite de faptul c televiziunea britanic nu mai era una de
calitate, deoarece era principala surs de informare, dup cum reiese de mai sus. Ei au
observat c toate standardele au sczut i au numit acest lucru degradarea. Ace tia au
asociat declinul standardelor culturii britanice cu deficien ele aprute n sistemul de
nv mnt. Pe parcursul mai multor ani, s-a afirmat c nivelul median al televiziunii difuzate
n ziua de azi este precum cel din coala general (patrusprezece ani). Ct timp aceast
impresie persist, standardele din mass-media vor scdea ncontinuu, a a c acest lucru se
va adeveri.
36 Identiti Culturale Britanice

n fiecare an, certificatele de studii i mediile de 10 sunt criticate de ziare, deoarece acestea
presupun c examenele devin din ce n ce mai u oare. Profesorii nu sunt de acord cu aceast
afirma ie, care sus in n schimb c tinerii ar trebui aprecia i pentru eforturile depuse i
realizrile ob inute, n loc s i demoralizeze. Guvernul sus ine i el c standardele nu au fost
sczute, dar guvernul ar spune oricum acest lucru, nu e a a?

Diferite articole sus in c lipsa abilit ilor a studen ilor se datoreaz cursurilor inutile nou
introduse, cum ar fi mass-media i sportul. Nimeni nu vrea s aud sau s aduc critici la
adresa standardelor din ce n ce mai sczute ale educa iei. Studen ii sunt ultimii care se vor
plnge de notele umflate din coli i universit i. De ce ar face-o? Revista Private Eye are
o rubric numit Prostia Britanic. Printre cele mai recente articole, sunt incluse:

Steve Wright Radio 2

Wright: Care este termenul italian pentru autostrad?

Participant: Expresso

Emisiunea lui Grant Stott, Radio Forth

Stott: Cine este liderul Partidului Unionist din Ulster (provincie a

Irlandei de Nord)?

Participant: Geri Halliwell (cntrea i actri englez, membr a trupei Spice Girls)

Emisiunea The Weakest Link, difuzat n cadrul re elei de televiziune BBC1

Anne Robinson: Care este obiectul de studiu al botanicii, ca tiin ?

Caroline OShea (participant n cadrul emisiunii Big Brother): Sedimente

Introducere 37

Aceast nelini te cu privire la decderea britanic scade importan a domeniului

economic i cel militar, sau poate fi un efect al transferului de putere efectuat ctre toate
regiunile controlate de Anglia. Fostul Consilier tiin ific ef al Guvernului a afirmat n 2001
c universit ile nu dispun de fonduri suficiente i c nu trebuie privite ca simpli nlocuitori
ai Serviciului Militar pentru a ine sub control tinerii. Oricare ar fi motivul, aceast fric
fa de decderea programelor de radio i televiziune, care face ca gndurile s prind via
i s fie auzite de majoritatea popula iei i va arta dac este o prere justificat sau doar un
simptom al panicii.

Dezbaterea pe subiectul standardelor are loc anual i niciodat nu este gsit o solu ie
care s satisfac pe toat lumea, indiferent de cultur, statut social i anxiet i. Genera iile
anterioare sus in c ei au nv at mai mult cnd ace tia au fost la coala primar i facultate,
dect tnra genera ie i c erau n stare s realizeze mult mai multe lucruri dect ace tia.
Progresi tii sus in noile metode de predare i admir faptul c Marea Britanie a reu it s lase
imperialismul n urm, la fel ca i snobismul i conservatismul specific britanic.

Pesimi tii sunt de prere c tinerii nu au parte de suficient educa ie i i-au pierdut
interesul fa de cunoa tere i politic, i, i ndreapt aten ia spre droguri, sex i consum.
n realitate, nu este a a. Trebuie s observm cartea anti-globalizare No Logo, scris de
autoarea canadian Naomi Klein, care au fost cumprate n patruzeci de mii de exemplare
de ctre tineri cu vrste cuprinse ntre optsprezece i treizeci de ani, n mai pu in de un an n
anul 2000.

Structura crii Identiti Culturale Britanice

Datorit perspectivelor prin care au fost observate identit ile culturale britanice,
cartea a fost mpr it n apte capitole. Fiecare capitol ncepe cu o cronologie, deoarece este
necesar pentru observarea evenimentelor publice care au dus la conturarea experien elor
de via individuale. La sfr itul fiecrui capitol exist exerci ii recapitulative care instig la

38 Identiti Culturale Britanice

discu ii care sunt dezbtute chiar i de popula ia Marii Britanii. Pentru ca discu iile acestea
s fie ct mai informative, au fost incluse exemple culturale, mai exact elemente culturale
pe care britanicii le consider importante. Aceste exemple includ filme, emisiuni de
televiziune, teatru, romane, substraturile sociale i alte artefacte n care se reflecteaz cultura
na iunii britanice.

n primul capitol Locuri i Oameni, se vorbe te despre cultura Marii Britanii din
punct de vedere geografic. Oamenii sunt rezultatul propriului habitat (Natura i Alimenta ia)
i ncercm s ne dm seama care este punctul lor comun ceea ce produce sistemul
britanic. Capitolul men ioneaz ct de mndrii sunt oamenii c apar in unei anumite regiuni,
populara diviziune dintre Nord i Sud, rivalitatea care dateaz din timpuri istorice dintre
comitatele Lancanshire i Yorkshire. Oamenii care triesc n Cornwall i Devon (partea de
vest a rii) simt c sunt diferi i de londonezi, care de i sunt la sute de mile deprtare, de in
controlul asupra lor. Londonezii consider c ei reprezint inima Marii Britanii, printre multe

Capitolul Educa ie, Munc i Recreere descrie aspectele formale i recrea ionale ale
popula iei din Marea Britanie. El analizeaz amploarea cu care oamenii ncep s accepte
valorile culturale transmise prin sistemul de nv mnt. De asemenea, analizeaz atitudinile
existente cu privire la angajare i trauma suferit de oamenii care consider c fac parte din
clasa muncitoare, dar de cele mai multe ori nu au un loc de munc. Se pune ntrebarea
dac timpul de munc este productiv n Marea Britanie, astfel nct s asigure o bun form
fizic i psihic a popula iei sau dac este pur i simplu hedonism?

Gen, Sex i Familie urmre te schimbarea atitudinilor i tiparele comportamentelor

pe care le au ambele sexe. Sexul este un lucru biologic, dar genul este determinat de societate.
Se ridic ntrebarea dac rolurile de gen tradi ionale nc domin Marea Britanie? Principiile
cu vedere la sex i sexualitate, n special pentru tineri, sunt foarte diferite fa de cele pe care
le au prin ii lor. Cum rezolv familia aceste aspecte? Conceptul de familie nuclear a reu it
s fac schimbri mari. Autoritatea brba ilor a sczut. Rata cstoriei este din ce n ce mai
rar, n timp ce rata divor urilor este tot mai deas. La ce va duce acest lucru, nu doar din
Introducere 39

punctul de vedere al stabilit ii sociale, dar i felul n care oamenii i vd propria familia i
viitorul acesteia?

n capitolul Cultura i stilul tineresc este analizat felul n care a fost conceput
termenul adolescent n anii 1950 i felul n care ace tia au metode de comunicare, stil
vestimentar, comportament i obiceiuri independente. Este analizat de asemenea i via a
btrnilor, ntr-o societate care se adreseaz din ce n ce mai mult tinerei genera ii.

Capitolul Clasele sociale i Politica analizeaz modul n care via a oamenilor este
condi ionat de statutul social-economic din care fac parte. S-a sus inut de multe ori c nu
se mai fac diferen e ntre clasele sociale, ns nu este a a. Este analizat de asemenea modul
n care statutul social influen eaz modul de vot i faptul c oamenii nc de consider din
punct de vedere politic de dreapta sau de stnga.

n capitolul Etnie i Limbaj sunt observate diferite probleme legate de rasele umane,
nu doar minorit ile etnice care reprezint 6,8% din popula ia Marii Britanii, dar i irlandezii,
sco ienii, galezii i englezii ale cror identit i sunt doar par ial determinate. De asemenea,
este observat i colonizarea limbajului, precum i efectele pe care imigran ii le au asupra
Marii Britanii.

Capitolul Religie i Mo tenire descrie legtura spiritual pe care o are popula ia

britanic. Religia se afl n declin, i asta nu este tot. mpreun cu credin a religioas exist
un set de valori care dateaz din trecut, care au fost men inute pe parcursul mai multor
genera ii, prin mo tenirea acestora. Mo tenirea este un act mai complicat dect pstrarea
monumentelor istorice intacte i implic idea parcului-tematic Marea Britanie, Carnavalul
Notting Hill, diferite feluri de mncare. Este de fapt vorba despre includerea influen elor
culturale exterioare, n cea de baz.

Cteva dintre ntrebrile care au aprut sunt: Va disprea cultura britanic, sau va
deveni o cultur global? De ce o influen cultural o anuleaz pe alta, s zicem, pe cea
sco ian? Este tnra genera ie britanic chiar att de diferit fa de prin ii acesteia? Dac
da, n ce sens? Dac nu, de ce nu? Mass-media din Marea Britanie reu e te s acopere sau
s schimbe perspectivele publicului? Este Marea Britanie un loc cu multe na ionalit i,
40 Identiti Culturale Britanice

ncurajeaz diversitatea sau este conservatoare? Ce nseamn n secolul XXI s fi britanic?

Dac a fi britanic este un titlu, ce semnific acesta? Calitate? Stil? Snobism? Cultura?
Mo tenire? Schimbri ale claselor sociale? Stabilitate? Perfidie? Bune maniere...?

O perspectiv cu vedere la rspunsul ntrebrii ce cred oamenii c nseamn a fi

britanic este oferit de alegerile fcute de zece mii de oameni n cadrul unu sondaj de opinie
organizat de re eaua de televiziune BBC la sfr itul anului 2001 i nceputul anului 2002.
Oamenii au fost ntreba i: Care este cea mai marcant personalitate britanic din toate
timpurile?. Cele mai populare zece rspunsuri la aceast ntrebare au fost: Cpitanul
James Cook, Charles Darwin, Sir Isaac Newton, Oliver Cromwell, Sir Ernest Shackleton,
Regina Elisabeta I, William Shakespeare, John Lennon, Winston Churchill i Lordul
Horatio Nelson. Primii doi favori i au fost Lennon i Shakespeare. Chiar dac au unele
lucruri n comun (sexul i domeniul artistic), ace tia au avut atitudini total diferite.
Shakespeare reprezenta apogeul culturii din timpul epocii de aur Elizabetane, care este
n contrast cu accentul pus pe cantitate n secolul XII (n domenii precum mass-media,
industrii multina ionale, produc ia n mas). Lennon reprezint opusul, o alt epoc de
aur, n 1960, cnd valori precum libertatea, liberalismul, n elegerea i iubirea erau cele
pre uite de genera ia a crui motto era probabil titlul cntecului lui nsu i John Lennon,
Give Peace a Chance (acord o ans pcii), iar imnul acestuia, Imagine (imagineaz-
i) (votat cel mai bun hit al tuturor timpurilor ntr-un sondaj de opinia organizat de re eaua
de televiziune Channel 4). Aceast list ne prezint mai multe dintre concep iile despre
britanici i eroi, mai exact genul, ara, mo tenirea, conducerea i faima. Faptul c nici
unul dintre cei prezen i n top nu mai sunt n via indic faptul c prezentul este nc
umbrit de ctre trecut.

4. Comments on translation

4.1. Translation problems

There is no translation free of translation problems; they occur in every translation

procces. According to Christiane Nord, translation problems are objective, as they result
from the differences between the ST and the TT situations, the motive for the translation
initiation, the time of reception and the medium and from the differences between the source
language and the target language; they are objective by nature (Nord, 1991:151).

Translation problems depend on the translation situation and language. According to

Christiane Nord (1991:158-160), there are four classes of translation problems: pragmatic,
cultural, linguistic and text-specific problems. The text I have chosen has mostly cultural
and linguistic problems.

The pragmatic problems arise from the differences in the extratextual factors of the
ST and the TT, namely the text purpose, the recipients with their background knowledge,
the time gap between the ST production and the TT production and the medium (Superceanu,

I have not encountered pragmatic problems in my text because the medium of the ST
is the same one as the TT; the time gap between the two texts was not a problem because it
did not require temporal deictic elements and I believe the text can be understood by all
people, even if some of them lack historic or subject matter knowledge.
Cultural problems arise from differences between the two cultures which come in
contact. The translator can identify them by relying on his background knowledge of what
constitute culture-specific notions, habits, expectations, norms and conventions: linguistic,
textual, physical or societal (Superceanu, 2009:99).

The linguistic problems, which arise from the difference between the source language
and the target language system, are dealt with in contrastive studies and translator trainees
can easily get informed about them. (Superceanu 2009:99). There are four types of linguistic
problems: terminological, lexical, semantic, stylistic and grammatical.

Example 1:

ST: He thought that this meant for England: Derby Day, Henley Regatta, Cowes,
the twelfth of August, a cup final, the dog races, the pin table, the dart board,
Wensleydale cheese, boiled cabbage cut into sections, beetroot in vinegar, nineteenth-
century Gothic churches, and the music of Elgar.

TT: El credea c acest lucru semnific pentru englezi: Marea curs de cai a Marii
Britanii, Cursa de canotaj Henley Regatta, oraul Cowes, 12 august (deschiderea
sezonului de vntoare), Finala Cupei de Fotbal a Angliei, cursele de cini, jocul
Pinball, jocul de tras la int, cacavalul Wensleydale, varza fiart tiat buci, sfecla
murat, bisericile gotice din secolul al XIX-lea i muzica compozitorului britanic Elgar.

This example reveals not only one cultural problem, but several problems, and I used
different strategies to solve them. For Derby Day, I used the equivalence strategy, Marea
curs de cai a Marii Britanii. I used this strategy for more cultural problems this example
provides, and those are: Henley Regatta with the translation Cursa de canotaj Henley
Regatta, a cup final with the translation Finala Cupei de Fotbal a Angliei, the dar board
with the translation jocul de tras la int and the pin table with jocul Pinball. I used the
explicitation strategy, explaining between brackets the meaning of 12 of August, 12 august
(deschiderea sezonului de vntoare). For boiled cabbage cut into sections, Wensleydale
cheese, nineteenth-century Gothic churches and beetroot in vinegar I used word-for-word
translation: varz mrunit tiat buci, cacavalul Wensleydale, biserice gotice din
secolul al XIX-lea and sfecl murat. For the music of Elgar, I used expansion, muzica
compozitorului britanic Elgar, in order to explain to the target readers who he is.
Example 2:

ST: One has only to see the popularity of McDonalds, American branded clothing,
or the prevalence of overseas restaurant cuisines.

TT: Trebuie doar s observm popularitatea fast-food-ului McDonalds, a hainelor

americne ti sau rspndirea restaurantelor cu specific oriental.

For this translation problem, I used the explicitation strategy, in order to explain to the
target audience, what McDonals is: fast-food-ului McDonalds. For overseas, I have used
the modulation strategy, cu specific oriental.

Example 3:

ST: They are supplemented with numerous other sporting and social entertainments:
soccer matches, greyhound and horse racing, darts tournaments, snooker matches,
Townswomens Guild.

TT: Mai exist i alte evenimente sportive i culturale: meciuri de fotbal, curse de
ogari i de cai, concursuri de tras la int, concursuri de snooker, Townswomens Guild.

In this example, the translation strategy I used is borrowing and addition. I kept in the
TT Townswomens Guild from the original text, because that is the name of the cultural event.

Example 4:

ST: Firstly, every year The Sunday Times publishes a list of the thousand richest
people in Britain.

TT: Ziarul Sunday Times a publicat un top anual cu cei mai boga i o mie de britanici.

In the example below, the I have used the explicitation strategy, Ziarul Sunday
Times, because not all people who read who read the TT know what The Sunday Times

Example 5

ST: So today, ostensibly, New Labour, which came into power in 1997 on a wave
of euphoria, appears to be very firmly in control and to have the broad support of the people.

TT: A a c, n present, noul Partid Laburist care a venit la putere n 1997 ntr-un
val de euforie, dar prea c avea totul sub control i avea sprijinul cet enilor.
In this example, I used for Labour the equivalence strategy: Partid Laburist.

Example 6

ST: In 1981 the Sun orchetrated hatred for the Argies over the Falklands conflict.

TT: n 1981, ziarul Sun a intensificat ura pentru argentinieni (numii peiorativ the
Argies) n timpul conflictului asupra insulelor Falkland.

In this example I encountered three translation problems, for ziarul Sun and the
Falklands I used the equivalence strategy, ziarul sun and insulelor Falkland, and for the
Argies I used the explicitation strategy, argentinien (numii peiorativ the Argies), in order
to explain the term.

Example 7

ST: Latent British xenophobia is revealed in the offensive tabloid expression Johnny

TT: Latenta xenofobie britanic se poate remarca n titlul ofensiv Johnny Foreigner
(Johnny Strinul) al unui tabloid.

In this example I used the borrowing strategy, because Johnny Foreigner is the title of
a tabloid, and I translated it into the target language between brackets, Johnny Stinul.

Example 8

ST: Many of these items are obvious, but a few require explanation. Deepfried Mars
Bars and fluorescent green peas are northern food delicacies; Britons are evidently the
highest per capita consumers of jigsaw puzzles; there is an attempt to introduce the kilt as a
fashion garment for men; the pedestal water-closet was pioneered in Britain, by Thomas
Crapper in the nineteenth century; Routemasters are red London buses; 16 million Saucy
Postcards were sold in 1963 the company is now defunct; the rating X for films, which
gave them a forbidden-fruit status, was abandoned in 1981; yobs are thugs the cartoonist
Tony Husband got his own back on his muggers by drawing Yobs cartoons for Private
Eye for fifteen years; the idea of black and white zebra street crossing was exported around
the world.

TT: Majoritatea termenilor sunt u or de n eles, dar unii dintre ei trebuie s fie
explica i: dou dintre delicatesele din nordul rii sunt ciocolata Mars nvelit n aluat i
prjit la cuptor, i, mazrea fluorescent; britanicii sunt cei mai mari consumatori de
puzzle pe cap de persoan a existat o tentativ de a introduce kiltul n vestimenta ia
brba ilor; toaleta cu soclu a fost inventat n Marea Britanie de ctre Thomas Crapper n
secolul al XIX-lea; n 1963 au fost vndute 16 milioane de cri potale Saucy Postcards
care ilustrau caricaturi obraznice, dar n prezent compania nu mai exist; ncadrarea
filmelor n categoria X, care le-a fcut un fel de fructe interzise, a ncetat s mai fie
aplicat n 1981; huliganii sunt infractori, caricaturistul Tony Husband s-a rzbunat pe ho ii
care l-au prdat prin caricaturile Yobs (huligani), desenate pentru revista Private Eye timp
de cincisprezece ani; trecerea de pietoni alb-negru de tip zebr a fost preluat de rile din
ntreaga lume.

In this example I used different translation strategies. The one I used for two problems
I found in the text I used the explicitation stategy, because concepts like deepfried Mars Bars,
Saucy Postcards, Yobs, Private Eye can not be understood by the target readers without the
explanations for them ciocolat Mars nvelit n aluat i prjit la cuptor, cri potale
Saucy Postcards care ilustrau caricaturi obraznice, caricaturile Yobs (huligani), revista
Private Eye. For the other problems I encountered in this example, per capita, forbidden-
fruit, I used the equivalence strategy, pe cap de locuitor, fructe interzise.

Example 9

ST: She was a paradoxical heroine in that her wealth could have separated her from
people in the street, but it didnt. She was genuinely liked by her future subjects: so much so
that Tony Blair could make political capital by calling her the Peoples Princess at her

TT: A fost o eroin paradoxal, deoarece averea sa i-a oferit posibilitatea de a se

ndeprta de oameni, dar nu a fcut-o. S-a fcut iubit poporului britanic, att de mult nct
Tony Blair a capitulat politic la nmormntarea acesteia, numind-o Prinesa Inimilor.

For the problem I encountered in this example, the Peoples Princess, I used the
cultural equivalence strategy, Prinesa Inimilor, in order to render the same meaning to the
target readers.

Example 10

ST: As regards the classic serials category listed above, most people could name The
Forsyte Saga, or Jane Austen adaptations, but they would be just as likely to include
preferred television sitcoms such as Blackadder, Fawlty Towers, or Rising Damp, as well
as detective series such as Inspector Morse and Midsomer Merders.

TT: Cnd vorbim despre seriale clasice, majoritatea persoanelor se gndesc la Saga
Familiei Forsyte, sau la adapta iile fcute dup Jane Austen, dar pot la fel de probabil s
includ i serialele lor preferate de televiziunea, cum ar fi Blackadder, Fawlty Towers i
Rising Damps, precum i seriale poli iste cum ar fi Inspectorul Morse i Crimele din

In this example, for some of the translation problems I encountered I used the
borrowing strategy, because they are names of the television sitcoms, and they do not have
any recognized translation, so people use the English title: Blackadder, Fawly Towers
and Rising Damps. For some of the titles which are found in this example, I used the
recognized-translation strategy. The titles The Forsyte Saga, Inspector Morse and
Midsomer Murders have an official translation in the target-language and so, they must
be translated as such: Saga Familiei Forsyte, Inspectorul Morse and Crimele din

Example 11

ST: Finally, a most unlikely 2000 overnight heroine, at the age of twenty-four, was
Derbyshire-born Ellen MacArthur. The yachtswoman came second in the Vende Globe
single-handed rond-the-world race.

TT: Ellen MacArthur, din Derbyshire, a devenit peste noapte o eroin a anilor 2000 la
vrsta de patruzeci i doi de ani. Ea a luat locul doi n cursa de vslit cu o singur mn n
jurul lumii, numit Vende Globe.

In this example I used the omission strategy, because it does not affect the meaning of
the text. The second strategy I used is borrowing for the name of the race, Vende Globe.

Example 12

ST: The show was really about generating interest to fuel a market for a product which
it was creating. This will ultimately sell CDs, make the pop group stars and the programme
producers rich, and subvert the previous norm, under which it was consumers, not
manufacturers, who decided what they want to consume. A slot was even found for
HearSay for the Royal Variety Show in 2001. The formula is commercially successful
and promoter Simon Cowell then did a series Pop Idol for ITV seeking a solo performer.

TT: Emisiunea s-a axat pe capturarea publicului asupra unui produs innovator, care
va duce la vnzarea CD-urilor, la mbog irea productorilor i a membrilor trupei i la
sabotarea normelor consumatorilor care aleg s o urmreasc. Emisiunea HearSay a fost
nominalizat i n cadrul galei Royal Variety Show n 2001. Acest format a prins foarte
bine la public i datorit acestui lucru, productorul Simon Cowell a realizat emisiunea Pop
Idol pentru aceea i re ea de televiziune, ITV, dar n cadrul creia se cuta un artist solo.

In this example, I used the borrowing strategy for CD, because it is a term which is
used both in the SL and the TL. I used the same strategy for Pop Idol, because it is the name
of a show, which is very popular and I believe many readers know what it is. For the other
two problems, HearSay and the Royal Variety Show, I used the explicitation strategy, in
order to make the readers understand these concepts.

Example 13

ST: This view should be born in mind.

TT: Trebuie s se in cont de acest lucru.

In this example, the whole sentence represents a lexical problem, which has been
solved by modulation, in order for the target-readers to understand its meaning.

Example 14

ST: We have used the plural identities in our title to make out the point that no
single mould fits British people.

TT: Forma de plural a cuvntului identit i folosit n titlu eviden iaz diferenele
dintre britanici.

This example involved two lexical problems, which I solved by omssion and
paraphrase. I applied the process of omission for the structure we have used because it does
not interfere with the meaning of the text. I solved the other lexical problem, no mould fits
British people, through the paraphrase, diferenele dintre britanici.

Example 15

ST: Here we can conclude that once again characteristic British individualism
kicked in.

TT: Concluzia tras este: caracterul britanic i-a spus cuvntul.

This example involves a morphological problem which I solved by transposition.

Therefore, I translated the structure we can conclude, by using a singular noun in the TL,
concluzia, in order to achieve a more natural form of expression in the TL. Other
morphological problem is the structure kicked in, which I solved with the process of
equivalence, i-a spus cuvntul, in order to create a specific Romanian expression.

Example 16

ST: They see standards of all sorts being lowered in the media generally, and call it
dumbing down.

TT: Ei au observant c toate standardele au sczut i au numit acest lucru


The morphological problem in this example was solved with the transposition
strategy, by expressing the structure dumbing down with only one word in the TT,

Example 5

ST: The most vibrant cultural development in Britain comes from the margins not
from the centre. The following for example have become incorporated into the
mainstream: in music, hip hop and rap; in fashion, saris and kimonos; in style, dreadlocks,
body-piercing and tattooing; in literature, novels by Hanif Kureishi or Zadie Smith, poems
by Benjamin Zephaniah.

TT: Cea mai dinamic cultur nu se afl n zonele centrale, ci n cele marginale.
Urmtoarele acte culturale au fost deja ncorporate n cultura central: n muzic hip
hop-ul i rap-ul; n mod sari i komono-uri; ca stil dreaduri, piercinguri i tatuaje; n
literatur romanele lui Hanif Kureishi sau ale lui Zadie Smith i poeziile lui Benjamin

In this example I have encountered two lexical problems. I solved the first one,
comes from the margins not from the centre, through paraphrase, in order to sound natural
in the TL, nu se afl n zonele centrale, ci n cele marginale. I have solved the second
problem, the mainstream, through a cultural equivalence, cultura central.

4.2. Translation difficultuies

Translation difficulties are subjective by nature (Nord, 1991:151) and depend on

three factors: the translators level of competence: his knowledge about the world and
specifically about the subject matter of the ST and his skills to use the procedures; the
translation purpose, i.e. the functional, pragmatic, and stylistic qualities required of the TT
as compared to the ST; the technical working conditions.

A translation problem may turn into a difficulty for one translator and under certain
conditions, but the same problem may be solved with no special effort by another more
competent or experienced translator (Superceanu, 2009:100).

Example: This semi-official British cultural scene has a further supporting

infrastructure of self-regulating organizations which serve to channel the talent which in
another culture would not find an outlet. These include the Football and Amateur Athletic
Associations, private art galleries promoting the likes of Damien Hirst, Tracey Emin and
Martin Creed with their sheep in formaldehyde, bed with used condoms, or The
Lights Going On and Off;

The structure in bold represented a difficulty for me because I lack knowledge in this
domain. To overcome this difficulty, I searched the artists and their paintings on the
internet and I have found some information on After I read about
them and I understood what my text meaning was, I decided to translate de names of the

Example: There are several other institutions which are equally or even more
influential in peoples lives, and whose influence, though unofficial, is widespread. There
is Henley Royal Regatta (rowing), cricket at Lords in London, Bodminton Horse
festival, the Edinburgh Festival, the Notting Hill Carnival.

The structure in bold represented a difficulty for me because I did not know what
they are, due to my lack of knowledge regarding the British culture. I have looked them up
over the internet, where I found not only descriptions for each one, but also representative
images, and I understood even better their meaning.

4.3. Technical difficulties

During the translation process, I faced some technical difficulties in the process of
making tables and lists, but they were easy to overcome.


This document proves that a translator means much more than a linguist or a
terminologist. The translator is a bridge between two or more culture, transferring words,
ideas and concepts from one to another, keeping the same skopos and having the same effect
on the readers.

The text I have chosen is specialized, because it is highly culturally marked, so its level
of difficulty was very high. The problem raised by this text were mostly cultural problems.
During the translation of this text I had discovered many interesting facts about the British
culture I did not know before.

Translating this text, I started to understand better the profession of translator and the
way it should be practiced. Translating takes a lot of time, hard work, patience, but most
important, general knowledge in the domain of translation. To fulfill the translation of this
text, I have consulted the electronic resources, books and dictionaries.

There can never be an absolutely final translation. (Robert M. Grant).

This quotation expresses perfectly what translating is like, no matter how good it seems
when you finish it, if you read the translation again, you will make changes each time you
do it.


Dejica D., 2012, Thematic Management and Information Distribution in Translation,

Timi oara, Editura Politehnica
Storry Mike and Childs Peter, British Cultural Identities, London and New York,
Routledge 11
Newmark P., 1988, A textbook of Translation, London, Practice Hall
---, 1988, Approaches to Translation, London, Practice Hall
Nord C., 1991, Text Analysis in Translation, Amsterdam, Rodopi

---,2005, Text Analysis in Translation: Theory, Methodology and Didactic Application of a

Model for Translation-Oriented Text Analysis, Amsterdam-New York: Rodopi, 2nd.
revised edition

Superceanu R., Translating Pragmatic Texts, Timi oara, Editura Orizonturi Universitare

Electronic resouces

Dic ionar explicativ al limbii romne

Merriam-Webster Dictionary

Wikipedia -,

2 British Cultural Identities

2 Timeline
4 43 Roman invasion
5 1066 Norman invasion
7 1215 Magna Carta (Great Charter)
1509 Accession of Henry VIII
10111 1558 Accession of Elizabeth I
1616 Death of Shakespeare
3 164251 English Civil War
1815 Wellington at Waterloo
6 1901 Death of Victoria
8 1940 Churchill becomes PM

9 1952 Accession of Elizabeth II

1 1997 Death of Princess Diana
2 2002 Deaths of Princess Margaret
3 and the Queen Mother,
4 Queen Elizabeth II's
Golden Jubilee

In t r odu c t i o n 3
HIS IS A BOOK ABOUT contemporary Britain and British people. On 10111
Tthe one hand, Britain is a country with defined boundaries, a recog- 1
nisable landscape, a long history, and a position in the various international 2
economic, social, and political league tables. On the other hand, British 3
people are much harder to describe. To begin with, some British people 4
do not live in Britain. Also, many people living in Britain do not think of 5
themselves as British. Nationality is a matter of allegiance and cultural 6
affiliation. Some people say that your nationality is indicated by where you 7
choose to live or by the team you support at sports events; others say that 8
it is a question of whom you would fight for. It has also been argued that 9
nationality is no longer a powerful force in Britain, that it is simply a matter 20
of circumstance, and that today it is far less significant than local or global 1
identities: relatives, friends, and communities are more important to us and 2
so is transnational culture. 3
Above all, nationality is a question of identity and so is crossed by 4
other kinds of identity, such as ethnicity, gender, sexuality, religion, age, 5
and occupation. This book aims to outline some of the kinds of identity 6
found at those intersections in Britain at the beginning of the twenty-first 7
century. As such, it will be implicitly questioning the difference between 8
British cultural identities and cultural identities in Britain. Fifty years ago, 9
T. S. Eliot famously said that culture was something that included all 3011
the characteristic activities and interests of a people. He thought that 1
this meant for England: Derby Day, Henley Regatta, Cowes, the twelfth 2
of August, a cup final, the dog races, the pin table, the dart board, 3
Wensleydale cheese, boiled cabbage cut into sections, beetroot in vinegar, 4
nineteenth-century Gothic churches, and the music of Elgar. Fifty years on, 5
conceptions of English and British identity have changed enormously and, 6
for example, few people would attribute any significance to the twelfth of 7
August, the opening day of the grouse-shooting season. Moreover televi- 8
sion, which didnt feature for Eliot, would appear from Table 0.1 to be the 9
main cultural bonding agent between British people. 4011
The term British is itself contentious. In recent years, partly as a 1
response to the devolution of political power to Scotland, Wales, and 2

Ireland, there has been much questioning of what it means to be British. 3111

4 British Cultural Identities

1111 TABLE 0. 1 Subjects of conversation with friends and family, 1991

Subject Percentage of people who ever
talk about subject
5 Advertising 2
6 Big business 2
Bringing up children 26
Clothes and fashion 19
10111 Cost of living 43
1 Education 20
2 Gardening 16
3 Law and order 16
4 Neighbours or workmates 21
5 Politicians 8
Religion 6
Sport 25
Television programmes 48
20 The government 19
1 Trade unions 1
2 Newspaper articles 19
3 Health and welfare services 18
4 Unemployment 16
5 Personal health 21
None of the above/dont know 3
8 Source: TOM Attitudes to Advertising Survey, 1991
1 If we are all British, then why should people feel a need to revert to their
2 previous nationalities? And if others in the UK have power devolved to them,
3 what becomes of the formerly dominant English?
4 In examining nationality we should add the caveat that Britishness is often
5 used instead of Englishness. On William Gladstones tombstone, he is described
6 as Prime Minister of England ignoring Wales, Scotland, and Ireland! People
7 from Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland believe that making Englishness
8 synonymous with Britishness erases their identity. If British and English are the
9 same, there is no room within the term for other nationalities who live in the
4011 British Isles. R. S. Thomas, the Welsh poet and clergyman, said Britain does
1 not exist for me. It is an abstraction forced on the Welsh people. For him it was
2 just an aspect of imperialist domi-nation and he wanted no part of it.

In t r odu c t i on 5

The debate has broadened out into questioning whether we are 1111
anyway determined by nation any longer. Some commentators suggest that 2
it is easier to define British cultural identity by looking outside than inside. 3
The argument goes that Britain is just another constituent of Marshall 4
McLuhans Global Village the product of various world influences, 5
rather than the outcome of home-grown social developments. Doubtless 6
there is some truth in this. One has only to see the popularity of 7
McDonalds, American branded clothing, or the prevalence of overseas 8
restaurant cuisines. (Britain has eight thousands Indian restaurants.) This 9
view should certainly be borne in mind. Dont we live in a global culture, 10111
dont we enjoy influences from many geographical areas and isnt identity 1
different for everyone? Some people are influenced by the fact of their age, 2
by the fact that they live in a big city, are well or badly off financially. In 3
short hasnt nationality been overridden by cultural identity? This book 4
seeks to address those questions. 5
Cultural identity is something which is partly imposed by ones back- 6
ground and partly chosen by people. All people have a number of influences 7
bearing on them, from both Nature and Nurture. That is, they inherit their 8
ethnicity, physical abilities, intelligence and so on, in large measure from par- 9
ents. But many other environmental factors affect their development: for 20
example family, region, schooling, religion, music, etc. determine their ex- 1
perience. To a degree they form their own cultural identities by selection from 2
a range of options. So for example they are Beatles fans or Manchester United 3
supporters, or go to opera or watch films. They conform with or react against 4
the values of their parents and accept or reject societys expectations of them. 5
These influences, absorbed wittingly or unwittingly, determine identity. 6
We have used the plural identities in our title to make the point that 7
no single mould fits British people. The population is diverse in all sorts of 8
ways and this is one of the strengths of the culture which has evolved over 9
the past two thousands years. Many races and continents have contributed 3011
to its development. For example most people dont know that in Roman 1
Britain a garrison of African soldiers, under Septimus Servius, guarded 2
Hadrians Wall. Modern Britain contains numerous elements, often in 3
tension with one another, but more usually complementary. For example 4
many people who elsewhere have come to blows Hindus and Muslims; 5
Protestants and Catholics; Greeks and Turks in Britain have for the most 6
part found ways of working together in peaceful co-existence. Their liking 7
for stability, good-quality education, healthcare and robust economic 8
conditions has overridden their ideological differences. One of the aims of 9
our study is to identify elements of British culture which have brought 4011
about this benign effect. 1
British Cultural Identities describes how people in Britain see them- 2
selves. It is concerned with the culture they generate and are in turn formed 3111

6 British Cultural Identities

4 (a)
3111 (b)

Intr od uct i o n 7

(c) 8
(d) 9
FIGURE 0.1 Shops or stalls selling national goods and souvenirs from
(a) England, (b) Scotland, (c) Wales or (d) Ireland

8 British Cultural Identities

1111 by. Culture is meant in its broad sense as shared experience that which
2 comes out of a dynamic mix of ages, races, regions, sexes, income levels
3 and interests. The identities which are produced by this culture are person-
4 ally and collectively fluid. Because what we are examining is complex and
5 changing, our conclusions will be tentative and general. Our constant is the
6 fact that the people who live on the islands are the way they are, partly
7 because they live there.
8 In conducting our study, we will look at specific current political,
9 social, and cultural events. This will enable us to give basic background
10111 information on Britain: who is in power, what is the racial mix, the size of
1 the population, the key institutions, the main sports, religions and so on.
2 We will include some succinct contrasts with the past to fill out that back-
3 ground. Recent events chosen for examination reveal some basic truths
4 about Britain in the political, social, and cultural arenas and lead us to
5 emphasise the complexity of British society and the need for careful
6 analysis.
9 Institutional Britain
1 A list of traditional pillars of mainstream Britain would identify the key
2 official institutions as Parliament; a legal system which enforces the rule
3 of law; an educational system of good quality; the Anglican Church; the
4 Bank of England; the Stock Exchange; the BBC. These are all elements of
5 a stable society, but examination of them doesnt really begin to tell the
6 story of the culture, for which they are prerequisites. There are several other
7 institutions which are equally or even more influential in peoples lives,
8 and whose influence, though unofficial, is widespread. There is Henley
9 Royal Regatta (rowing); cricket at Lords in London; Badminton Horse
3011 Trials; yachting at Cowes; rugby at Twickenham; the Glastonbury pop
1 festival; the Edinburgh Festival; the Notting Hill Carnival. None of these
2 events is institutional but each figures largely on individuals psycholog-
3 ical calendars and forms part of the cultural menu from which some British
4 identities are chosen. They are supplemented with numerous other sporting
5 and social entertainments: soccer matches, greyhound and horse racing,
6 darts tournaments, snooker matches, Townswomens Guilds. These are all
7 seen by their fans as indispensable to their individual cultural landscapes.
8 This semi-official British cultural scene has a further supporting
9 infrastructure of self-regulating organisations which serve to channel the
4011 talent which in another culture would not find an outlet. These include the
1 Football and Amateur Athletic Associations, private art galleries promoting
2 the likes of Damien Hirst, Tracey Emin and Martin Creed with their sheep
3111 in formaldehyde, bed with used condoms, or The Lights Going On and

In t r od u c t i on 9

Off; publishing houses making the Harry Potter phenomenon possible; film 1111
and video production companies, which create soaps such as Brookside and 2
Hollyoaks; the advertising and design industries; the music industry, from 3
small recording studios to major artist recruiting houses such as EMI and 4
HMV. These are part of Britains cultural fabric yet they have no official 5
status and no state funding. 6
Popular culture 9
One consequence of examining the nation through its official institutions 1
is that large cultural areas will always be unexplored. Ethnic communities 2
will have no place. Teenage fashions, clubbing, comics, pubs, around which 3
many peoples lives revolve, wont get a look in. The Britain covered in the 4
myriad special-interest magazines will not feature. A more comprehensive 5
picture of contemporary British culture is likely to emerge if we examine 6
the experience of the man or woman in the street. By and large, he or she 7
is exposed to the culture which has welled up from below. This experience 8
may be read through elements of popular culture such as music, magazines, 9
television and film, examples of which are offered throughout this book. 20
Popular culture, which comes from below (soaps, tabloids, reality 1
television such as Big Brother), can be more useful for our analysis than 2
high culture (opera, theatre), because it reflects widespread, particularly 3
youthful, public taste and thus enables us to explore Britons psychology, 4
motivation and aspirations. High culture, on the other hand, is imposed 5
from above via school curricula, and deliberately ignores life as lived 6
experience, and contemporary social trends. The most vibrant cultural 7
development in Britain comes from the margins not from the centre. The 8
following for example have become incorporated into the mainstream: in 9
music, hip hop and rap; in fashion, saris and kimonos; in style, dreadlocks, 3011
body-piercing and tattooing; in literature, novels by Hanif Kureishi or 1
Zadie Smith, poems by Benjamin Zephaniah. 2
Schooling 5
Concentration on popular culture also enables us to keep pace more easily 7
with the rapid changes in society. For example there have been significant 8
shifts in patterns of education. The fee-paying private schools have always 9
had a disproportionately significant influence throughout British society 4011
largely through their reinforcement of class structures. Ambitious members 1
of ethnic minorities see Britain as a place where the old school tie matters 2
and, faced with latent racial prejudice, see their way forward as through 3111

1 0 British Cultural Identities

1111 private education. This is leading to profound cultural changes in one of

2 Britains dominant media for social advancement. There has always been
3 an ethnic-minority presence in such schools, but pupils were usually sons
4 of powerful overseas dynasties. For example, in Billy Bunters school
5 Greyfriars, in the 1930s Magnet comic, there was an Indian boy, Hurree
6 Jamset Ram Singh, who was the Nabob of Bhanipur. The featuring in
7 popular culture of such figures has undoubtedly contributed to the
8 mystique of the great public schools, such as Eton and Harrow, whose
9 prevailing ethos was nevertheless predominantly white, Anglo-Saxon,
10111 Protestant, Establishment. Today, however, the private sector contains a
1 much higher ethnic element than state schools. This element is domestic
2 rather than overseas and leads to the greater integration into the corridors
3 of power of British society for some ethnic Britons.
4 Other factors in the current cultural transformation are: the renego-
5 tiation of the whole concept of the family; the new technology: computers,
6 mobile phones, the internet, DVDs. Peoples daily lives are adapting to
7 shifts in career patterns, new skills requirements from employers and new
8 entertainments. The majority of those who attend university today for
9 example are taking courses which didnt exist ten years ago. There are
20 degree courses in fashion, tourism, nursing, film, media, football, and pop
1 music studies, to name a few. For a conservative country such as Britain
2 that is a fundamental change.
5 Methodology
7 In this period of flux, where the only constant is change, what it means to
8 be British today is markedly different from what it meant ten years ago.
9 Enduring stereotypes are not a great deal of help. For example a 1999 poll
3011 of young Europeans associated five elements with Britain: Shakespeare,
1 London, the BBC, The Beatles, and the Royal Family. This is very out of
2 date. Any single snapshot of British identity will also be blurred. So what
3 we have chosen to do is to look at a number of recent studies of the way
4 people live, and to see how helpful they are in explaining the way our
5 society works. A number of sources have recently offered their particular
6 take on areas which they think are important. We shall look later at four
7 specific examples. Firstly, every year The Sunday Times publishes a list of
8 the thousand richest people in Britain. This is one way of making a judge-
9 ment about the people who live here. It assumes that their wealth reflects
4011 not only their commitment and work but also their aspirations, their values,
1 and their outlook. Secondly, in March 2001 The Observer Sunday news-
2 paper published a study Britain Uncovered dealing with the way we live
3111 now: Money, work, love, sex, crime, youth, race, religion, education and

In t r odu c t i on 1 1

ignorance. It contains an eclectic mix of things happening on the cultural 1111

scene which represent significant trends. Thirdly, Channel 5 produced 2
An AZ of Britishness which was another attempt to pin down the essence 3
of contemporary British culture. We will, fourthly, look at a list of 4
Quintessences of Englishness offered in Julian Barness 1998 novel 5
England, England. We will examine each of the above attempts to describe 6
the moving target of British culture and will see how useful their various 7
approaches can be, but first a look at a number of political, social, cultural, 8
and sporting events and incidents will let us see how people reflect and 9
inform the culture around them. 10111
Politics 3
The General Election of June 2001 gave Labour a second term of office 5
with 413 MPs to the Conservatives 166. This is an astonishing majority. 6
It is 31 per cent greater than Margaret Thatchers landslide second victory 7
in 1983. So today, ostensibly, New Labour, which came into power in 8
1997 on a wave of euphoria, appears to be very firmly in control and to 9
have the broad support of the people. However, a better indication of how 20
people feel about their country and their politicians might be the fact that 1
in both the 2001 and the 1997 elections, two single-issue mavericks, 2
standing as Independents, were elected without the benefit of any elab- 3
orate party machine. These were: in 1997 Martin Bell; in 2001 Richard 4
Taylor. Bell, a former war correspondent, stood as an Independent on a 5
decency manifesto, and defeated the sitting Tory MP Neil Hamilton, who 6
had become embroiled in accusations of sleaze. Taylor, a retired hospital 7
consultant standing on the single issue of the downsizing of his local 8
Kidderminster hospital, unseated a Labour junior minister by 17,630 votes! 9
Both Bell and Taylor countered elaborate, sophisticated and expensive 3011
political machines, during electoral landslides. Meanwhile young voters are 1
so disaffected from the whole political process that, to try to secure their 2
votes, the parties resorted to texting them on their mobile phones during 3
the last election. 4
Conclusions we can draw from this are that, although Labour is in 5
power, and although Parliament is sovereign and elected by the people, 6
British voters are still wary of having their lives determined by professional 7
politicians and are prepared to drop them instantly when opportunity 8
knocks. This signals a long-standing distrust, by British people, of profes- 9
sionals (Disraeli was Britains first full-time Prime Minister, only in as late 4011
as 1868) and professionalism (Rugby Union retained its amateurs-status 1
only, until the 1990s). People have in the past preferred to be governed by 2
the gifted amateur or the aristocrat whose inherited wealth made him 3111

1 2 British Cultural Identities

1111 (rarely her) less likely to be corruptible. Now, when professionalism is more
2 accepted, they are still prepared to elect people who operate without the
3 benefits and constraints of a party machine.
6 Society
8 In the social arena, when the Queen Mother celebrated her 101st birthday
9 in 2001, the Royal Family gathered around for the happy occasion. The
10111 Queen Mother was personally popular with all social classes. Hitherto
1 Buckingham Palace has not handled public relations well, but now, trying
2 to be user-friendly, the Royals organised a photo opportunity for the
3 benefit of the media. However an unplanned outcome of the event was that
4 newspapers took the Royal Family to task for literally wheeling out Princess
5 Margaret, the Queens sister, in an invalid chair. She was clearly seriously
6 ill and it was seen as inhumane a violation of her rights as an individual,
7 to display her to the masses. So what was meant to be an orchestrated
8 moment of celebration became an opportunity for anti-monarchists to
9 express their reservations about royalty and the Royal Family.
20 Here we can conclude that once again characteristic British individ-
1 ualism kicked in. People do not like their emotions and responses to be
2 stage-managed. One of the effects of Britains Protestant Reformation was
3 that the individual retains his or her right to a personal view. This
4 Protestant tradition of independence is linked to ideas of egalitarianism and
5 fair play. It favours the views and behaviour of the individual over those
6 of the herd. Consequently people resent attempts to manipulate and orches-
7 trate their private views. They want to accord themselves and others
8 freedom, and that includes the freedom of privacy when necessary.
1 Culture
3 The building of the Millennium Dome at Greenwich was an attempt by the
4 government to showcase aspects of Britain which it felt were important. It
5 was also undoubtedly meant to lend authority to the government which
6 produced it a precedent set by the Great Exhibition of 1851 at the Crystal
7 Palace in Londons Hyde Park. Tony Blair called the Dome a triumph of
8 confidence over cynicism. The government spent 1 billion of taxpayers
9 money erecting a tent at Greenwich and filling it with amusements. There
4011 were several zones including a Faith Zone and a Body Zone which were
1 meant to inform and to entertain.
2 However, from the beginning the project was a disaster. It was
3111 intended to represent Britain, but the people werent consulted and didnt

In t r odu c t i on 1 3

feel they had any stake in it. Target visitor figures of 12 million material- 1111
ized as 5.4 million. People contrast the Dome with the Eden Project in 2
Cornwall (a huge biodiversity project under geodesic domes), which thrives 3
and which started as a community project. People saw the Dome as a 4
further example of money being syphoned from the regions to be spent in 5
London. They didnt like being managed into visiting it, and, the more they 6
were hectored by government ministers to attend, the more reluctant 7
they were to go. 8
The low attendance figures illustrate two things: firstly, the mixture 9
of elements chosen to be celebrated was awry (the Faith Zone was partly 10111
financed by the subsequently disgraced Hinduja brothers), secondly, people 1
do not like to be told, least of all by government, what they should like, 2
or what they should do. This rejection of the authority of government is a 3
major aspect of British cultural identity. People will not be bullied. (The 4
song Rule Britannia contains the line: Britons never never never shall be 5
slaves.) The failure of the Dome project illustrated the powerlessness of 6
government in a democracy. 7
Sport 20
Taking pride in the sporting achievements of ones nation is clearly a 2
significant indicator of ones attachment to ones homeland. That this 3
persists, and even increases, despite political devolution to the regions and 4
Britains integration within Europe, is a conundrum which will be exam- 5
ined later on. (The Daily Telegraph still reports Europe under Foreign 6
News three decades after Britain became a member of the European 7
Economic Community.) 8
Britain is a country where interest in sport has always flourished. 9
Traditionally its sports stars have been lionised: W. G. Grace the nineteenth- 3011
century cricketer; Roger Bannister, the first four-minute miler; Linford 1
Christie, the sprinter, and so on. Britons particularly welcome the success 2
of sporting heroes in football, or soccer, as it is known. The game of soccer 3
is central to Britains view of itself and is supported fanatically by people 4
of both sexes, from all social classes, ages, and regions, so for example any 5
soccer match between England and Germany assumes more than sporting 6
importance. There is national glee in remembering Englands 42 defeat of 7
Germany in 1966. The commentators They think its all over . . . it is 8
now became a famous Sun newspaper headline after that match (and is 9
the name of a popular BBC sports quiz programme). After Englands 51 4011
victory over Germany in 2001 (following a 10 defeat at Wembley nine 1
months earlier) all sorts of genies good and bad came out of the bottle. 2
Even people who dont normally follow football were exultant. This was 3111

1 4 British Cultural Identities

1111 reflected on television and radio where newsreaders, male and female, did
2 not even try to appear dispassionate. The so-called black-edged voice,
3 reserved for describing the normal disasters of the news, disappeared in
4 the reporting. Sport here proved cohesive and positive. The fact that one
5 section of British society, rampaging English hooligans, went round
6 Munich after the match chanting theres only one Bomber Harris went
7 largely unnoticed in the British media. Overnight there was a shift
8 from middle-class apprehension about the prospective behaviour of
9 British hooligan-fans overseas, to a display of triumphalism where a few
10111 hotheads must not be allowed to detract from the very real victory which
1 took place.
4 Xenophobia
6 The way in which news is reported reveals much about British readers
7 and viewers. The coverage of refugees and asylum seekers for example
8 has revealed sharp differences in British attitudes to foreigners and in
9 generally accepted notions of what it means to be British. Former Tory
20 Party leader William Hague applied the phrase bogus asylum seekers to
1 refugees, presumably in the belief that it would endear him to his followers.
2 In practice it raised the anger of opponents and supporters alike. For the
3 former it was evidence of Tory racism, for the latter it failed to distance
4 him from the lack of compassion of his predecessor-but-one, Margaret
5 Thatcher.
6 Events like this can enable a latent nationalism to arise. This happens
7 instantly, and newspapers can rally support against an enemy overnight.
8 In 1981 the Sun orchestrated hatred for the Argies over the Falklands
9 conflict. Most Sun readers were unaware where the Falkland Islands were,
3011 but they rose to the invitation to be xenophobic anyway. That Iraqi leader
1 Saddam Hussein, the Serb Slobodan Milosevic, or Zimbabwean Prime
2 Minister Robert Mugabe could equally be vilified at a moments notice indi-
3 cates a xenophobia always ready to be ignited in certain sections of the
4 British public. Even the 2001 Royal Variety Performance featured a com-
5 edian who centred his act around the British hatred of the French! Dislike
6 of other nationalities is not far beneath the psyche particularly of some of
7 the older generation. Meanwhile the young and the educated look for their
8 values towards Europe and the USA.
9 The above examples from current affairs show how complex a
4011 country Britain is. It is difficult to make generalisations about because
1 Britain is an amalgam of paradoxes. It is generally conformist and conser-
2 vative but is also in a constant state of change. It is governed by Parliament,
3111 but the peoples voice is strong. It has a monarch but many people are

I n t r odu c t i o n 1 5

republicans. It generates a lot of popular and much high culture, but also 1111
philistinism and hooliganism. Constituency of its population also is in flux. 2
The majority of the population is Caucasian, but 6.8 per cent of people are 3
now from ethnic minorities predominantly from the Caribbean, Africa, 4
and the Indian subcontinent. It is hard to embrace such contradictions and 5
tensions. It is much easier to talk about Britains, or for that matter the 6
Identities of our title. 7
Postmodernism 10111
It might also be argued that modern Britain is no different from any other 2
developed state. In a postmodern world of surfaces, public relations, styl- 3
istic fusions, and so on, new urban developments are the same everywhere. 4
Manchesters Trafford Centre shopping mall, for example, is a collage of 5
global culture. It has trompe loueil artwork, Greek statuary, Art Deco 6
mouldings, Whistleresque murals, Venetian frescos, a mock-up of the deck, 7
deck-furniture, and lifeboats of the Titanic (presumably designed to dredge 8
up images of upper-class travel, as well as of the teenage, heart-throb film 9
Titanic, from shoppers unconscious). There is also a fibreglass statue of 20
Sammy Davis Jr! This shopping mall and others like it, steeped in global 1
culture (or kitsch?), are now firmly entrenched on the cultural map for 2
British young and old alike. Are these people consumers defined by the 3
products they are made to buy, or Britons who assert their multicultural 4
identities and individuate themselves by shopping? That is where our 5
debate lies. 6
Media 9
More important perhaps than global influences is the role played in British 1
life by home-grown media. Everything is now played out on television. 2
Moral and ethical dilemmas, from gay rights and cosmetic surgery to 3
euthanasia and abortion, are illustrated and aired in soap operas. Everyone 4
in the public eye, all organisations, and corporate Britain have P(ublic) 5
R(elations) people to help to manage information flow. Politicians are 6
forced to resign in time for The Six Oclock News. Ministers must act 7
quickly in order to seem decisive, rather than wisely, having considered in 8
depth. The medium dominates the message. Nobody in Britain can claim 9
to be unaffected by the barrage of noise coming from these external influ- 4011
ences. However, people do discriminate between what they tolerate, what 1
they accept, and what elements of the culture (or counterculture) they 2
choose for themselves as a buffer against the outside world. 3111

16 British Cultural Identities

1111 Language
3 We should also be careful with language. In any discussion of nationalism,
4 identity, or current affairs, language is never innocent. The choice of words
5 reveals the underlying outlook of the speaker. So for example the word foreign
6 in English is much more hostile than the tranger/estrangeiro found in most
7 romance languages or than the German auslnder. Latent British xenophobia is
8 revealed in the offensive tabloid expression Johnny Foreigner. Our chapter
9 Language and Ethnicity says a lot more about this, but for now think about the
10111 impact on national relations and culture of the following uses of language: To
1 welsh is to cheat or renege; to scotch is to thwart, to squash, to prevent; an Irish
2 lanyard is an untidy rope. In other words the names of the three subsidiary
3 nations in the British Isles have negative connotations in the language of the
4 dominant one. Thus national prejudice is encoded in the English language.
Bearing these points in mind, we will now turn to examine the approaches of the
four recent studies referred to earlier, each of which uses a list or key words to
identify salient characteristics of British people.
3 The Sunday Times rich list
5 Financial status is clearly one determinant of cultural outlook. The Sunday
6 Times evidently believes that, as F. Scott Fitzgerald, said: the rich are dif-
7 ferent. Wealth affects culture because, even if they are philistines individu-ally,
8 the rich collectively tend to be patrons of the arts. For decades Maurice Saatchi
9 has been buying the work of contemporary British artists. As often as not the
3011 rich are distinguished by the flamboyant garishness of their taste, rather than by
1 their discernment. Ruby Wax conducted viewers around the Duchess of Yorks
2 distinctive home in a famous television programme. Their sense of identity is
3 determined by the fact that they are rich and there-fore insulated from the
4 constraints and inconveniences of the poor which is the rest of the country.
5 Many of the latter will be public servants teach-ers, social workers, postal
6 employees, workers in the civil service people defined by their usefulness.
7 However the rich, as a group, would rarely claim that their chief aim is public
8 service. So, in the Sunday Times richest thou-sand list we see forty-one people
9 who made their money in fashion compa-nies, including familiar high-street
4011 names such as Joseph, French Connection (now FCUK) and Russell &
1 Bromley. The aim of these companies is the con-tinued creation of wealth for
2 the benefit of the families which own them and of wages for the people who
3111 work for them, rather than public service.

In t r odu c t i on 1 7

In 2001, after the dotcom bubble burst, old money continued to do 1111
rather well. The land-owning Duke of Westminster (300 acres of Mayfair 2
and Belgravia) was the richest man in Britain. But that does not mean that 3
the rise of Britains meritocracy is faltering. In 2001 there was another drop 4
in the proportion on the list of those who inherited their wealth. Only 241 5
of the thousand in the list inherited their fortunes. This is the smallest 6
proportion since the list was first drawn up in 1988. Then about 70 per 7
cent of the two hundred entries had inherited their money. This represents 8
a significant shift in a culture in which inherited wealth plays such a major 9
part. Financial change fuels the process of social and cultural change. The 10111
Sunday Timess focus on money reveals very little about the rich people 1
profiled or the lives of the mass of the population however, the fact that 2
most of those on the list are household names indicates that they are part 3
of a social community, as well as a purely financial British hierarchy. 4
The Observer: Britain uncovered 7
Whereas the Sunday Timess list offers a snapshot of a segment of British 9
society whose primary motivation and identity is fiscal, The Observers 20
Britain Uncovered supplement takes a sociological approach to contem- 1
porary culture and covers a broader spectrum. It contains a survey of public 2
attitudes (69 per cent are against same-sex marriage; the most popular 3
European country is Spain; only 19 per cent of people would not take out 4
private healthcare or educate their children privately, if they had plenty of 5
money) and behaviour (37 per cent would keep a wallet they found with 6
200 in it). It also looks at peoples activities across the age range from 7
deprived teenagers to pensioners; attitudes to work; drug culture; educa- 8
tion and finally eccentricity. Two sections deal with the spiritual state of 9
the nation broadly speaking, the decline of institutional religion in favour 3011
of house churches and the appeal to young Muslims of traditional Islam. 1
As a barometer of the health of the nation, the supplement is quite 2
hopeful. Society is changing, but the fixed standards from which people are 3
straying hover in the background. For example the journalist Burhan Wazir 4
complains about the severity of his own upbringing in Pakistan, but reports 5
that young British Muslims are managing to combine the practice of their 6
religion with the freedom to go clubbing if they want to. The film East 7
Is East (1999) highlights similar dilemmas. The section on eccentricity 8
suggests the impossibility of pigeonholing people. Miranda Sawyer, author 9
of a book on suburbia, Park and Ride (2001), meets a pensioner who is 4011
feeling wobbly because hed taken two Es (Ecstasy tablets). In her view, 1
eccentricity is what keeps the culture vibrant and makes Britain interesting, 2
because unpredictable. 3111

18 British Cultural Identities

1111 The Observers approach is trying to present a snapshot of the real Britain
2 as opposed to that of the tourist brochures. It is partly limited by factors
3 surrounding any inquiry based on questionnaires. Questions and the scope for
4 replying to them can be limited. Respondents do not always tell the truth. The
5 funky and the bizarre sell newspapers etc. and hence figure larger than life. But
6 by and large we are given a dispassionate overview, within the constraints of
7 The Observers liberal, left-wing leanings.
10111 Channel 5 An AZ of Britishness
2 In 2001, Ian Russell produced a programme called An AZ of Britishness for
3 Channel 5. Using twenty-six headings, the programme-makers looked at various
4 aspects of contemporary Britain. Their list of topics was random and eclectic,
5 and the tone flippant, with, for example, taxi drivers from the North and South
6 voicing prejudices about either side of the divide. However, most viewers of a
7 programme intended for home consumption could relate to the items raised. The
8 list is reproduced in Table 0.2 and might be used for a classroom brainstorming
9 exercise. Many of these items are obvious, but a few require explanation. Deep-
20 fried Mars Bars and fluo-rescent green peas are northern food delicacies;
1 Britons are evidently the highest per capita consumers of jigsaw puzzles; there
2 is an attempt to intro-duce the kilt as a fashion garment for men; the pedestal
3 water-closet was
6 TABLE 0. 2 An AZ of Britishness
8 Alcohol NorthSouth divide
9 Bingo Older people
3011 Cockney Pantomime
1 Dome Queue
Eccentricity Routemaster
Food peas, Mars Bars Saucy postcards
5 Gnomes Thatcher
6 Housing crisis Union Flag
7 Inventors Victory
8 Jigsaw Weather
9 Kilt X-rated
4011 Lavatory Yobs
Manners Zebra crossings
3111 Source: An AZ of Britishness, Channel 5, March 2001

In t r odu c t i on 1 9

pioneered in Britain, by Thomas Crapper in the nineteenth century; 1111

Routemasters are red London buses; 16 million saucy postcards were sold 2
in 1963 the company is now defunct; the rating X for films, which gave 3
them a forbidden-fruit status, was abandoned in 1981; yobs are thugs 4
the cartoonist Tony Husband got his own back on his muggers by drawing 5
Yobs cartoons for Private Eye for fifteen years; the idea of black-and- 6
white zebra street crossings was exported around the world. 7
The programme was a lighthearted venture, but made some telling 8
points. For example it interviewed three people, Scottish, Irish, and English 9
respectively. The two former knew the dates of their respective national 10111
saints days (St Andrew: 30 November, St Patrick: 17 March), but the 1
English person did not know that St Georges Day is on 23 April. This 2
tends to support the idea that it is English people who are least aware of 3
their nationality and whose sense of identity is now most in crisis. 4
The programme included a comment from the writer Ross Benson 5
that Britons have good manners in order to mask their underlying violence. 6
He said that during the Falklands conflict the Argentines found it very 7
difficult to deal with the good manners of British diplomats. They subject 8
you to their charm, and if you dont agree with them, they kill you. The 9
programme concentrated on some of the more outrageous elements of 20
Britain. Many of the people featured were oddballs a Cockney Pearly 1
King; a garden gnome collector; a man who walked the length of the 2
country barefoot, and lived in a cave. 3
The limitations of the approach in this case are: programme time 4
constraints; the appeal of the bizarre rather than the ordinary presenting 5
a wackier Britain than the norm; the absence of all the ordinary features 6
of British life work, sport, family, landscape and perhaps the most domi- 7
nant element of British culture: television itself. However, largely because 8
of its idiosyncratic approach, this was a successful programme bearing a 9
message, broadly speaking celebrating eccentricity, which British people 3011
wanted to hear about themselves. 1
England, England 4
In Julian Barness 1998 novel England, England, a powerful businessman 6
plans to turn the Isle of Wight into a theme park, so that tourists will not 7
have to traipse from Buckingham Palace to Stratford-upon-Avon to Chester 8
and so on. His business blueprint lists the following Fifty Quintessences 9
of Englishness. Some of these items are tongue-in-cheek, and one could 4011
argue about the order in which they are prioritised, but they represent some 1
common perceptions and will be familiar to many within and outside the 2
United Kingdom. 3111

20 British Cultural Identities

1111 TABLE 0. 3 Quintessences of Englishness

3 Royal Family London taxis
4 Big Ben / Houses of Parliament Bowler hat
5 Manchester United FC TV classic serials
6 Class system Oxford / Cambridge
7 Pubs Harrods
8 A robin in the snow Double-decker buses / red buses
9 Robin Hood & Merrie Men Hypocrisy
Cricket Gardening
White cliffs of Dover Perfidy / untrustworthiness
3 Imperialism Half-timbering
4 Union Jack Homosexuality
5 Snobbery Alice in Wonderland
6 God Save the King / Queen Winston Churchill
7 BBC Marks & Spencer
8 West End Battle of Britain
9 Times newspaper Francis Drake
Shakespeare Trooping the Colour
Thatched cottages Whingeing
3 Cup of tea / Devonshire cream tea Queen Victoria
4 Stonehenge Breakfast
5 Phlegm / stiff upper lip Beer / warm beer Emotional
6 Shopping frigidity Wembley Stadium
7 Marmalade Flagellation / Public schools
8 Beefeaters / Tower of London
Not washing / bad underwear
Magna Carta
2 Source: Julian Barnes, England, England (1998)
5 Examining the list we can see that it contains some physical monu-ments,
6 some historical figures, some works of the imagination, some ceremonials.
7 Most people can easily relate to these elements of Englishness even if they
8 dont apply them to themselves.
9 The monarchy, for example, is a common topic of conversation, though
4011 most Britons have never seen the Queen in person. Members of all social
1 classes, and older people especially, support the monarchy but draw the line at
2 the minor royals who they see as contributing nothing to the welfare of Britain.
3111 They point for example to the moral lead meant to come

I nt r odu c t i on 2 1

from royalty. The marital breakdown rate of the present Queens children, 1111
at three out of four, is worse than the national average of one in three. 2
Despite this disillusionment, 70 per cent of Britons say they prefer to live 3
as subjects under a monarch rather than as citizens in a republic. However, 4
68 per cent of them believe that we will not have a monarchy fifty years 5
from now. 6
As regards the classic serials category listed above, most people could 7
name The Forsyte Saga, or Jane Austen adaptations, but they would be just 8
as likely to include preferred television sitcoms such as Blackadder, Fawlty 9
Towers, or Rising Damp, as well as detective series such as Inspector Morse 10111
and Midsomer Murders. Much of British culture is based on the supposed 1
essential rurality of the country. John Major refered to warm beer, cricket 2
and ladies cycling as essences of Englishness. These are country pursuits. 3
television series such as those above trade on this rural myth. Set in beau- 4
tiful locations, they are essentially about restoring order and calm to an 5
idyllic place whose waters have been ruffled by the odd murder or two. 6
Partly because of its context in a nostalgic novel, Barness checklist 7
has an historical bias. Past glories overshadow such present-day banalities 8
as whingeing, emotional frigidity, and shopping, and this list, more 9
than the others, records the traditional British vices of snobbery, hypocrisy, 20
and perfidy. There is a dated feel to such an approach. The tenor of the 1
items is before the past half-century. It is Britain in aspic, disabled by its 2
past, and really has little relevance for the contemporary British student 3
population for example, who are more tuned in to travelling through 4
Europe, music, and the drink and drugs culture. 5
Individualism 8
One thing all these studies have in common is their admiration for British 3011
individualism. They praise British peoples dissent, scepticism, lack of 1
conformity, the ability to set rather than follow fashion trends, and indi- 2
viduality over the herd instinct. Eccentricity is one stage further on from 3
this and is admired even more. Undoubtedly for a country of eccentrics to 4
thrive, fundamental tolerance of dissent or difference is necessary, and 5
clearly this exists in Britain. Environmental protesters such as Swampy 6
become national heroes, through media exposure. Ken Livingstone was 7
elected mayor of London despite the governments best efforts to thwart 8
him. It would be nice to think that Britain supplies a model of diversity 9
which could be exported to other post-industrial democracies. However, 4011
many people ask the question: how long can Britain remain an oasis of 1
diversity and tolerance of difference in the face of the homogenising forces 2
of globalisation? 3111

22 British Cultural Identities

1111 Heroes
3 A pragmatic way of looking at British identity and of examining the aspirations
4 of ordinary people is to look at the kind of contemporary heroes they have
5 created. These heroes reveal a lot about the people who have created them. They
6 reflect how people would like to be themselves, or what they see as admirable in
7 others. As a group, heroes represent the values of their culture. Significantly this
8 cynical age has thrown up many anti-heroes or stage villains, such as Nasty
9 Nick Bateman from Big Brother, and Anne Robinson from The Weakest Link.
10111 Previous generations tended to admire Establishment figures or politicians, such
1 as Churchill or Macmillan, but today sports people tend to predominate. For
2 example Sally Gunnell, the hurdler, is also well known outside her sport. Others
3 well known enough outside their sports to appear in television advertisements
4 are: Frank Bruno the boxer, Gary Lineker and Vinnie Jones the footballers,
5 Steve Redgrave the Olympic rower and Steve Davis the snooker player. Steve
6 Redgrave won five Olympic medals for rowing at successive Olympic games. In
7 2001 it took him around six hours to run the London Marathon because so many
8 well-wishers impeded his progress. As a national hero he embodied virtues of
9 doggedness and determination, good humour and stability which even the MTV
20 generation of slackers can evidently relate to.
2 Heroes of the day are decided much more by the young than they were
3 hitherto, and consequently television and media personalities such as Carol
4 Vorderman and Chris Evans tend to feature, as well as those from sports,
5 business, and commerce. So nowadays the range of heroes is much wider. In
6 order to examine this phenomenon, we will consider in more detail a small
7 number of select prominent examples.
3011 Princess Diana
2 An unlikely hero or heroine was Princess Diana. She was born into
3 privilege, the daughter of Earl Spencer and, after her fairy-tale marriage to
4 Prince Charles, had several palaces to choose from. She became a fashion icon
5 and her appearance was widely imitated. The other side to her was her
6 compassion for people with Aids and her opposition to land mines a product
7 of the military-industrial complex of which she herself was arguably a part.
8 Perhaps for this reason, people saw the latter as a par-ticularly principled stand.
4011 She was a paradoxical heroine in that her wealth could have sep-arated her
1 from people in the street, but it didnt. She was genuinely liked by her future
2 subjects: so much so that Tony Blair could make political capital by calling her
3111 the Peoples Princess at her funeral. The arrival of

In t r odu c t i on 2 3
FIGURE 0.2 Floral tributes outside Kensington Palace immediately after Princess 7
Dianas death 8
Princess Diana was a watershed in attitudes to the monarchy. Buckingham 1
Palace completely misread the public mood with their reaction when she 2
was killed with her lover in a car crash in Paris in 1997. 3
People already knew from a television interview with Martin Bashir 4
that Diana was at odds with the palace, and, when the latter appeared to 5
be prepared to give her a low-key funeral, they were outraged. There was 6
a national outpouring of grief. It was a moment when the nation came 7
together in sorrow because Diana represented values which were theirs as 8
well as hers: compassion for the sick in an uncaring Thatcherite world; 9
frustration at restrictions in a society hidebound by hierarchy; open- 3011
mindedness in a Britain needing to become multicultural; an evident belief 1
in the need for women to break out from the stultifying conventions of 2
marriage and assert their sexual freedom although arguably the latter was 3
just the continuation of an upper-class practice made much harder to hide 4
nowadays from paparazzi. Her funeral was one of the periodic, unscripted 5
moments in current affairs which unleash genuine feelings of solidarity 6
among British people. It is as if they wake up from their traditional passive 7
conservatism and realise how much they really care about certain issues. 8

There is a subtle shift in the public mood and in peoples relations with 9
one another. 4011
It should also be said that many other Britons were totally non- 1
plussed by this public display of grief. They speculated bemusedly on the 2
spiritual bankruptcy of those whose emotional lives were driven by the need 3111

2 4 British Cultural Identities

1111 to hero-worship public figures. They were astonished by the uncharacter-

2 istically British public expression of emotion. We can conclude that Britain
3 contains many opposites, and also note that some British heroes are more
4 unequivocally revered abroad than at home. So, Dianas saint-like media
5 image was drawn on by the 2001 French film Amlie (directed by Jean-
6 Pierre Jeunet), in which the heroines life as a do-gooder is inaugurated at
7 the moment she is watching the news report on Dianas death in Paris.
10111 The Beckhams
2 Two contemporary heroes for young people are David Beckham, the
3 Manchester United footballer and England captain, and his wife Victoria.
4 Posh and Becks, as they are called, are style icons and are observed minutely
5 by the media, their fans, and detractors. In Burchill on Beckham (2001),
6 for example, Julie Burchill said that David displays Diana-faced gravitas
7 . . . [and] seems so aristocratic, while [Victoria] is so delightfully
8 common. The couple feature as key characters in Alistair McGowans Big
9 Impressions on BBC1. Posh was so called when formerly a member of the
20 manufactured group the Spice Girls. Today they are very real trend-setters
1 parents worry that teenage pop fans will copy Poshs wearing of a lip
2 ring. Boys copy Beckss haircuts.
3 They both have jobs to do, and theoretically the intense media interest
4 which surrounds them just happens. Although what is reported is made
5 to seem spontaneous and natural, it is in fact the product of an elaborate
6 public relations campaign. In August 2001 the British national press
7 contained 450 stories about Victoria Beckham. This cannot have been acci-
8 dental. Becks has his child Brooklyns name tattooed in gothic script on his
9 lower back, where press photographers can see it. As an ambitious young
3011 couple they have realised that for them life in the media is money in the
1 bank. So they set about cultivating their public personas.
2 In a sense the Posh and Becks phenomenon is too closely orches-
3 trated to be genuine popular culture, despite its dependence on mass
4 support. Whereas most youth culture is about iconoclasm, rebellion, and
5 anarchy, their fame is orchestrated by PR firms. Posh and Becks are part
6 of a process of the transfer of wealth and power from a previous genera-
7 tion to a new one. In 2001, they went by helicopter from their Cheshire
8 mansion to the home of Lord Leverhulme for the dispersal auction sale of
9 its contents. They spent 2.1 million on purchases of antique furniture.
4011 The effect of this was to strengthen the position of Establishment antique-
1 collectors; to spread the message to their own fans that the past contains
2 items of value; and to transfer the proceeds of other peoples consumerism
3111 into wealth for their own future generations. Hence they consolidate the

Intr od uct i o n 25

FIGURE 0.3 David and Victoria Beckham are the most reported-on individuals in 6
Britain, having completely eclipsed royalty in terms of media interest 7
( Popperfoto/Reuters) 8
wealth of Britain past, while engaging in processes (pop music and foot-ball)
which are seen as transitory and ephemeral.
Media celebrities
Another young contemporary hero whose career has risen on the strength of
media publicity is the television chef Jamie Oliver. He is young. He does
everything in the eye of the media. He writes for The Times Magazine. He
travels to New York. He gets married. He entertains his friends. He appears in
advertisements. He is a talented individual but more important than that is the
publicity machine which sells him. He is a media hero who is mainly valued
for his appearance, style, and presentation. He lives his life in public and never
seems to have private moments. All his T-shirts are ones the audience would
like to own. They are never crumpled. Their owner looks confident. He never
appears depressed or having moments of introspec-tion. He is forever cheerful
and cuddly. In reality such people dont exist. He has abilities in cooking
undoubtedly, but his main skills are in self-promotion. He is the subject of
complaints and controversy in liberal organs such as the Guardian, but
meanwhile he is laughing all the way to the bank, and is evidently the twenty-
first-century version of the renais-sance man the people want to admire.

26 British Cultural Identities

1111 Business
3 Young people today particularly esteem achievers in business, commerce, and
4 finance. The businessman Richard Branson is the most admired figure. He is
5 self-made, rich, zany and takes part in dangerous sports such as ballooning, and
6 powerboat-racing. He has dealt in elements of youth culture such as CDs,
7 videos, and DVDs through his Virgin Megastores. Young people admire the
8 megalomania of his ambition he has also owned an airline and a train
9 company as much as the City distrusts him for his lack of focus.
1 Anita Roddick, who founded the Body Shop, is also admired for the
2 stances which she takes on matters such as the testing of cosmetics on animals.
3 As a female entrepreneur she is mould-breaking and serves as a role model for a
4 younger generation of women who want to make power and principles a part of
5 their identities.
6 Finally, a most unlikely 2000 overnight heroine, at the age of twenty-four,
7 was Derbyshire-born Ellen MacArthur. The yachtswoman came second in the
8 Vende Globe single-handed round-the-world race. It was a phenomenal
9 achievement, and what struck a chord with people from all walks of life was the
20 fact that she was not well connected nor well-heeled and was not a particularly
1 media-savvy person. In demeanour she was modest and didnt seem particularly
2 confident. However she was obviously extremely self-sufficient and competent,
3 and had worked single-mindedly for her fame. She had started as a sailing
4 instructor in Hull, had lived in a container in France, and gained her
5 achievement on her merits. For these reasons, including also the nautical
6 connection for an island people, she appealed to young and old.
3011 Reality television
2 Such is the power of television in Britain, that some heroes can be blatantly
3 manufactured and presented to the audience, rather than chosen by the
4 population at large. This is done in a semi-documentary format. The public are
5 voyeurs who see behind the scenes of auditions etc. People collude with the
6 pretence that they are a part of the programme-making and delude themselves
7 into believing it is all real. The sense of empowerment they are thus given
8 makes them more likely consumers of the eventual product. In 2001 an ITV
9 series Pop Stars set about auditioning young hopefuls from all over the British
4011 Isles to form a band. The programme masqueraded as a talent competition, and
1 the band which was produced, called HearSay, was presented as something that
2 rose commercially on its own merits. The audience was expected to ignore the
3111 paraphernalia of the production

I n t r odu c t i on 2 7

process (editing, promotion, stage-management). The group was put 1111

together in front of the viewers eyes week by week on television, and yet 2
spectators were quite happy to be hoodwinked by a process which they 3
were bankrolling. 4
The series was very like reality television, where peoples lives are 5
turned into soap opera. Successful candidates families were interviewed. 6
We vicariously experienced emotions with them. And yet the whole system 7
of heats and talentspotting was a sham in the sense that it pretended to 8
replace a haphazard system where talented singers sink or swim, depending 9
on their luck, with one where merit is all. So for example Claire Freeland, 10111
a Glasgow call centre supervisor, was widely considered the most talented 1
singer. However the verdict of the programme producer Nigel Lythgoe was 2
Voice: 10. Looks: 3. So she was dropped from the group. 3
The show was really about generating interest to fuel a market for 4
a product which it was creating. This will ultimately sell CDs, make 5
the pop group stars and the programme producers rich, and subvert the 6
previous norm, under which it was consumers, not manufacturers, who 7
decided what they wanted to consume. A slot was even found for HearSay 8
for the Royal Variety Show in 2001. The formula is commercially 9
successful and promoter Simon Cowell then did a series Pop Idol for ITV 20
seeking a solo performer. 1
Dumbing down 4
Many people are made anxious by the loss of quality in television, Britains 6
dominant information medium, illustrated above. They see standards of all 7
sorts being lowered in the media generally, and call it dumbing down. 8
They attribute this decline of British cultural standards to deficiencies in 9
the educational system. For years it has been suggested that the median 3011
level at which television is beamed is the third form at secondary school 1
(age: fourteen). If that link is retained, media standards will fall even 2
further, so the argument goes. 3
Every year GCSE and A level results are greeted with complaints from 4
the newspapers that the exams are getting easier. There is a ritual denial 5
of this from teachers and teaching unions, who say that people should give 6
credit to the young for their hard work and achievement instead of under- 7
mining their morale. The government supports the examiners line that 8
standards have not in fact declined, but the government would say that, 9
wouldnt it? 4011
Editorials complain that skills shortages have arisen because students 1
have all done undemanding new courses such as media studies and sports 2
science. Nobody really wants to hear or address complaints about the 3111

2 8 British Cultural Identities

1111 erosion of standards of quality in education. Students are the last people
2 who will complain about so called grade-inflation in schools or univer-
3 sities. Why should they? Private Eye runs a column called Dumb Britain.
4 Sample recent extracts include:
6 Steve Wright Radio 2
7 Wright: What is the Italian word for motorway?
8 Contestant: Expresso
10111 Grant Stott Show, Radio Forth
1 Stott: Who is the leader of the Ulster Unionist Party?
2 Contestant: Geri Halliwell
4 The Weakest Link, BBC1
5 Anne Robinson: In science, what is botany the study of?
6 Caroline OShea (Big Brother contestant): Bottoms.
8 It is tempting to suggest that this anxiety about dumbing down is a result
9 of Britains diminished economic and military significance in the world. Or
20 again, it is one of the effects of devolving power to regions hitherto
1 controlled by England. A former Chief Scientific Adviser to the Government
2 said in 2001 that universities are under-funded and must not be seen
3 simply as a substitute for National Service to keep youngsters off the
4 dole queue. Whatever the reason, fears about dumbing down of radio and
5 television programmes, turning ideas into sound bites that can be assimi-
6 lated by a not-very-well-educated audience is rife, and we will see later
7 whether there is just cause for this view, or whether it is a symptom of a
8 moral panic.
9 The debate about standards is like an annual game which is never
3011 satisfactorily resolved and which mirrors other social and cultural divides
1 and anxieties. People who have themselves been to grammar schools and
2 attended the old universities feel that they worked harder than the present
3 generation and were more competent. Progressives on the other hand wel-
4 come the new ways, applaud the sloughing off of Britains imperialist past
5 and attribute complaints to traditional British snobbery and conservatism.
6 Pessimists suggest that the undereducated young, having lost interest
7 in the pursuit of knowledge, are politically unconcerned and merely
8 dissipate their energies in drugs, sex, and pointless consumerism. This is
9 not so. One has only to point to the Canadian writer, Naomi Kleins anti-
4011 globalisation book No Logo, which sold forty thousand copies to eighteen-
1 to-thirty-year-olds in less than a year in Britain in 2000.

Intr od uct i o n 29

British Cultural Identities structure

Having reviewed a number of potential approaches to the question of British 2
cultural identity, we have chosen to structure our book into seven chapters. We 3
have headed each chapter with a timeline because one needs to be aware of 4
public events which shape peoples private experiences. After each of the 5
chapters we have included review exercises which allow the development of 6
discussion on issues which British people themselves debate. In order to inform 7
discussion we have included some cultural examples. These are items, mainly 8
from popular culture, which people value. They include films, television, drama, 9
novels, social commentaries and other artefacts which illustrate the cultural state 10111
of the nation. They are not academic references, but signposts towards cultural 1
understanding. 2
Our first chapter, Places and Peoples, deals with the cultural geo-graphy 3
of Britain. People are products of their biology and environment (Nature and 4
Nurture) and we try to determine what they have in common 5
what the British system produces. The chapter considers how far people 6
pride themselves on being from a particular area. There is a well known North 7
South divide but there is also a continuing historic rivalry between Lancashire 8
and Yorkshire. People from Cornwall and Devon (the West Country) feel they 9
are different from those in London, which is three hundred miles away and yet 20
rules them. Londoners see themselves as at the authentic heart of Britain, and so 1
on. 2
Education, Work, and Leisure deals with the formal and recreational 3
aspects of living in Britain. It assesses the extent to which people accept the 4
shared cultural values which schools and universities transmit to them. It looks 5
at attitudes to employment, and the trauma for members of a social group who 6
defined themselves as working class but who are often no longer working. It 7
asks whether leisure time in Britain is spent productively, to promote the 8
physical and psychic well-being of the population or is it just wasteful 9
hedonism? 3011
Gender, Sex, and the Family traces the change in attitudes and patterns 1
of behaviour of the sexes. Sex is biologically, but gender socially determined. 2
So, where has a questioning of traditional gender roles led to in modern Britain? 3
Attitudes to sex and sexuality, among young people particularly, are very 4
different from their parents. So how do families resolve these potential 5
divisions? The concept of the nuclear family has undergone profound change. 6
Male authority has been eroded. Marriage is less common and divorce is 7
prevalent. Where is this leading in terms not just of social stability but of how 8
people see their family roles and futures? 9
In Youth Culture and Style we examine the way in which teenagers, a 1
concept first identified in the 1950s, have their own codes of 2

3 0 British Cultural Identities

1111 communication, fashion, behaviour, and cultural practices. We also look

2 at the status of older people in a society becoming more youth-oriented.
3 Class and Politics deals with the question of whether peoples lives
4 and psyches are conditioned by the socio-economic rank in which they
5 happen to have been born. The death of class has been repeatedly
6 pronounced. We offer another view. We also look at the way in which class
7 influences voting patterns and the extent to which people still see them-
8 selves as political or of the right or left.
9 Ethnicity and Language looks at important questions around race,
10111 not just for ethnic minorities, who make up 6.8 per cent of the British popu-
1 lation, but for speakers of Irish, Scots, Welsh, and English whose identities
2 are partly thereby determined. It discusses the colonising nature of language
3 and its effects on incomers and Britain.
4 Religion and Heritage assesses how far people living in Britain main-
5 tain a spiritual dimension in their lives. Religious observance appears to be
6 in decline. But that is not the whole story. Linked to the idea of religious
7 belief is the collective endorsement of a set of values from the past, worth
8 handing on and preserved in the form of heritage. Heritage is more compli-
9 cated than the preservation of historic monuments. It involves the idea of
20 theme-park Britain, the Notting Hill Carnival, distinctive foods. It is very
1 often about the incorporation of influences from the margins into the even-
2 tual mainstream.
3 Some of the questions we are posing are: Will British culture be anni-
4 hilated by, or will it incorporate, global culture? Why does one cultural
5 influence, ones gender for example, override another ones Scottishness,
6 say? Is the present generation in Britain radically different from its parents?
7 If so in what ways? If not, why not? Do the British media reflect or
8 direct peoples views and perceptions? Is Britain a melting pot of nation-
9 alities, does it allow and encourage diversity, or is it just conformist and
3011 conservative? What does it mean to be British in the twenty-first century?
1 If British is a brand, what does it signify? Quality? Style? Snobbery?
2 Popular culture? Heritage? Social change? Stability? Perfidiousness? Good
3 manners . . . ?
4 One perspective on the question of what people think it means to be
5 British now is offered by the choices made by ten thousand people in a
6 BBC poll at the turn of the year 20012. People were asked: Who is the
7 greatest Briton of all time? The top ten in the running for this accolade
8 emerged as Captain James Cook, Charles Darwin, Sir Isaac Newton, Oliver
9 Cromwell, Sir Ernest Shackleton, Elizabeth I, William Shakespeare, John
4011 Lennon, Winston Churchill, and Lord Horatio Nelson. Interestingly,
1 the two people battling for the top position were Shakespeare and
2 Lennon. Though they have some things in common (both men, both in the
3111 arts), they arguably represent contrasting attitudes towards being British.

In t r o d u c t i o n3 1

Shakespeare represents the pinnacle of an Elizabethan cultural golden age 1111

which is often contrasted to the emphasis on quantity as much as quality 2
in the twentieth century (mass media, multinational industries, mass 3
production). Lennon by contrast represents a different golden age, the 4
1960s, when values of freedom, liberalism, understanding, and love were 5
promoted by a generation whose motto might have been Lennons Give 6
Peace a Chance, and its anthem Lennons Imagine (recently voted the 7
greatest number one single of all time on a Channel 4 poll of viewers). 8
The list tells us several things about the dominant conceptions of Britishness 9
and of heroes, in terms of gender, country, heritage, leadership, and fame. 10111
The fact that all those appearing in the top ten are no longer living also 1
arguably says something about the way in which the present continues to 2
live in the shadow of the past. 3