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Post-devolution Welsh identity in Porthcawl : an ethnographic analysis of class, place and everyday nationhood in 'British Wales'

Evans, Daniel (2014) Post-devolution Welsh identity in Porthcawl : an ethnographic analysis of class, place and everyday nationhood in 'British Wales'. PhD thesis, Prifysgol Bangor University.

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Abstract

Wales is commonly divided into ‘more Welsh’ and ‘less Welsh’ places, although very little is known about the ‘least Welsh’ parts of Wales (dubbed ‘British Wales’ in Balsom’s ‘Three Wales Model’). Indeed, some contemporary analyses claim that devolution has made Wales ‘more Welsh’ to the extent that British Wales no longer exists. However, these claims of cultural homogeneity overlook the persistence of regional class divisions in Wales, with the ‘least Welsh’ parts of Wales remaining the most affluent. This thesis contributes to the understanding of this overlooked region by exploring Welsh identity in the British Wales town of Porthcawl. Using a longitudinal ethnographic approach, I investigate how locals negotiate a Welsh identity and whether class and place influence this process. Yet this is not just a study of local place: my analysis of everyday Welshness is located within a wider Gramscian theoretical framework which conceptualises devolution as a process of passive revolution. My study finds that locals feel very Welsh, undermining ideas that British Wales is ‘unWelsh’, and that place influences local identification with Welshness. Locals understand Welshness to be hierarchical, and measure their own Welshness against discursively constructed ideals of linguistic Welshness and working class Welshness (the latter being more prominent). Using Bourdieu, I show how locals work to reconcile the clash between their local (middle class) habitus and the national (working class) habitus. Understood as a working class habitus, Welshness has both positive and negative connotations. Locals subsequently move towards and away from Welshness in different contexts. The micro helps illuminate the macro, and everyday life in Porthcawl is punctuated by Welshness, rather than being structured by it. Whilst the molecular changes of devolution are observable in Porthcawl, locals occupy a British cultural world, and the national deixis remains British. These findings are indicative of a post-devolution interregnum.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Subjects: Degree Thesis
Date Deposited: 04 Dec 2015 14:36
Last Modified: 04 Dec 2015 14:36
URI: http://e.bangor.ac.uk/id/eprint/5922
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