Britain in fragments

Why things are falling apart

By Satnam Virdee and Brendan McGeever

Britain in fragments


  • Hardcover
  • Paperback

Book Information

  • Format: eBook
  • ISBN: 978-1-5261-6457-5
  • Publisher: Manchester University Press
  • Published Date: February 2023
  • BIC Category: British Politics, Sociology, Sociology, HISTORY / Europe / Great Britain / 21st Century, SOCIAL SCIENCE / Social Classes, Society & social sciences / Sociology, SOCIAL SCIENCE / Race & Ethnic Relations, SOCIAL SCIENCE / Sociology / General, 21st Century History: From C 2000 -, United Kingdom, Great Britain


Britain today is falling apart. One of the most dominant states in world history finds itself confronted with growing demands for nationalist secessionism. Brexit has already secured its break from the European Union while looming Scottish independence promises to undermine the integrity of the British state. Meanwhile, class, gender, regional and generational inequalities are deepening while endemic racism has been re-invigorated. How has it come to this?

Britain in fragments traces how the historic pillars sustaining the democratic settlement have begun to crumble. This stability was constructed amid a century of imperial expansion abroad and working-class struggles for justice at home. The post-war welfare state was the apex of this historic arrangement; however, the ground beneath it began to shake as the processes of decolonisation and neoliberalism unfolded.

This book traces how successive Labour and Conservative governments have incrementally dismantled the democratic settlement. A bipartisan commitment to neoliberalism has culminated in a historic crisis of representation and legitimacy, opening the door to competing nationalist forces.


1 A Flawed Democracy
2 The Underside of the Welfare State
3 Anti-racism, Socialist Utopias and Neoliberal Reaction
4: New Labour and Remaking Class
5: Austerity, Scottish Independence, Brexit
Conclusion: Amid the ruins


Satnam Virdee is Professor of Sociology at the University of Glasgow

Brendan McGeever is Senior Lecturer in Sociology at Birkbeck, University of London

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