Paper short abstract:
This paper argues that in order to reach a meaningful understanding of citizenship and national identity one must first focus in on the spaces and encounters of everyday experience that give embodied, emotional content to the concept of belonging.
Paper long abstract:
Political drives to redefine national identity and to emphasize the role and responsibilities of the citizen in Britain have fallen short of engaging young people. My research revealed that Government definitions of these concepts find little resonance, remaining largely abstract and empty of direct experience and relevance. This research, involving young people from diverse backgrounds across England, utilised participatory visual and virtual methods to explore what it meant to each individual to 'belong'. Moving gradually away from the political and structural territory the research led me to the sphere of the personal, the particular, the mundane; a sphere filled with the emotional content of embodied experience. This paper will consider the potential that an embodied, emotionally rich understanding of belonging has for informing political debates into national belonging and citizenship.
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