Britain in fragments

Why things are falling apart

By Satnam Virdee and Brendan McGeever

Britain in fragments
Hardcover +
  • Price: £19.99
  • ISBN: 9781526164582
  • Publish Date: Apr 2023
  • Publisher: Manchester University Press
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    Paperback +
  • Price: £19.99
  • ISBN: 9781526164599
  • Publish Date: Apr 2023
  • Publisher: Manchester University Press
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    eBook -
  • Price: £19.99
  • ISBN: 9781526164575
  • Publish Date: Apr 2023
  • Publisher: Manchester University Press
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    Book Information

    • Format: eBook
    • ISBN: 978-1-5261-6457-5
    • Published Date: April 2023


    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.


    'A brilliantly readable and historically astute account of the point of collapse at which the entity called "Britain" finds itself today. Virdee and McGeever offer us a pithy and compelling story of where we are, how we got here and how it may yet be possible to rediscover the emancipatory impulses that will set us free from this quagmire.'
    Priyamvada Gopal, Professor of Postcolonial Studies, University of Cambridge, and author of Insurgent Empire

    'A truly brilliant razor-sharp analysis of how political and capitalist elites destroyed the promise of British democracy by systematically dividing the post-imperial multi-ethnic working classes. Our only hope, as this book concludes, resides in radical collective action against resurgent nationalisms and the forces of capitalist exploitation.'
    Imogen Tyler, Professor of Sociology, Lancaster University

    'This is a book about the falling apart of modern Britain. But it is not a typical treatise on Brexit. Utilising their joint expertise on class, race and nationalism, Virdee and McGeever dare to weave a narrative of multiple fragmentations: imperial, devolutional and regional. Their bold argument diagnoses the current fragility of democracy with unusual clarity. It is essential reading for all who wish to build a deeper and more meaningful democratic settlement.'
    Robbie Shilliam, Professor of International Relations, Johns Hopkins University

    'Why is Britain fragmenting? This is the provocative question that lies at the heart of this book. It provides a reasoned and insightful exploration of the reasons that have led to the present situation with its recurrent uncertainties, both politically and socially. It is a must-read for all those who are trying to make sense of how we have got here and fear where we may be going.'
    John Solomos, Professor of Sociology, University of Warwick


    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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