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Culture & Identity of the United Kingdom

Introduction

British Culture - Children's Rugby Team
Children's Rugby Team

Life in the United Kingdom is very diverse, yet at the same time this country, the home to the industrial revolution, essentially created a more standard work day and hence led the path on starting a weekly and daily routine to a great degree. In this way, most people in the United Kingdom share numerous similarities in their way of life, but ethnic, religious, and cultural diversity mean there is no standard.

Despite the differences, most of the people live in cities, partially due to the industrial revolution and the movement of jobs to the services and industrial sectors. Today very few people in the country make a living in agriculture, in fact not even that many people still make a living in industry, as the services sector has taken over and employees over 80% of the working population.

The services industries lead to fairly standard work days and jobs, with many people working from about 8:30 am to about 5:30 pm. Of course other people work evenings or nights depending on their jobs. The busy workday seems to mean many people eat out more regularly and evenings and weekends are often times spent relaxing. Many people also take this free time with children, who often attend school from about 9:00 am to about 3:30 pm.

Free time in the United Kingdom is highly valued and what people do during this time is very personalized. Many families spend time together, young singles and couples often times go out to a pub or restaurant with friends, and for extended time off, many people like to take vacations, or holiday to a seaside resort or mainland Europe.

However, variations exist for everyone in the United Kingdom. To some people religion is very important and this often times dictates how an individual lives and attending church, mosque, or synagogue is a weekly ritual. For others sports is important and evenings and weekends are consumed with playing or watching sports with friends.

Identity

Most people in the United Kingdom identify as English, Welsh, Scottish, or Irish. The latter three groups of people are almost wholly defined by ethnicity, but many ethnic Irish first identify by religion, either Protestant or Catholic, then secondly identify as being Irish. English, however, is defined by more than just ethnicity; although most people that identify as being English are ethnically English, second generation immigrants often identify as being English as well. This has created a changing identity, whose definition is more based upon being a citizen of the country rather than a wholly ethnically-defined identity. The Irish, Welsh, and Scottish don't have significant immigration numbers to their regions so there is little need to re-define these terms, which remain primarily defined by ethnicity and culture. Most people also identify, to some degree, as being British, which is a reference to the large island of Great Britain, but is also often used in a political sense, meaning a citizen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

This page was last updated: May, 2014