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The Cultural Roots of British Devolution

Michael Gardiner


This book presents a provocative argument which suggests that cultural devolution preceded and indeed forced political change. A 'post-British' form of culture - as found across literature, education and philosophy - has long been in the making, arising especially in local communities who no longer see themselves as British.

The author places this change in the context of post-imperial Britain in the second half of the20th century and looks at how underground cultures such as rave and reggae may have laid the foundations for a post-British culture. The various attempts to re-constitutionalise Britain are explored and the book ends with two key questions: how has the progress of a post-British culture been viewed in Scotland, and how do we pull a post-British England out of a devolutionary process which is liable to outstrip all British control?

Key Features

  • The first serious account of the history of the growing cultural division within Britain in the second half of the 20th century.
  • Accentuates the cultural roots of devolution, bringing them out from the shadow of party-political explanations.
  • Looks at the effects of devolution upon both Scottish and English culture.


1. When was British Culture?
2. The First Scottish Renaissance
3. The Question of Democratic Education
4. Before Theory
5. EnglandWithout the 'Cricket Test'
6. Can the Sub-Briton Speak?
7. Reading the Empire State.

About the Author

Michael Gardiner is Associate Professor in the Department of English and Comparative Literary Studies at the University of Warwick. As well as creative fiction and comparative cultural history and world literature, his books include The Cultural Roots of British Devolution (EUP, 2004), Modern Scottish Culture (2005), and From Trocchi to Trainspotting; Scottish Literary Theory Since 1960 (2006).


A wide-ranging and challenging polemical essay.