Children’s perceptions of their own national identity and what it means to be Welsh
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The thesis examines primary school children’s understanding of their own national identity and their perceptions about what it means to be Welsh. Both topics are investigated from a qualitative standpoint and contribute to the mainly statistical material in the field. The data were collected with children aged nine to ten years in three schools (two English-medium schools and one Welsh-medium school) in an urban area of south-east Wales. The study used multimodal methods, incorporating writing, drawings and interviews to capture the children’s insights. Findings demonstrated that children aged nine to ten are able to define their national identities in clear and discerning ways. Welsh was the most cited national identity, both in singular and multiple definitions of their national identity. Family, birthplace and residency were identified as factors in shaping their sense of their own national identity. Language did not feature strongly in the children’s responses about their own national identity. When reflecting on being Welsh and Welshness, the children’s drawings and annotations indicated common and often stereotypical views. These responses mainly occurred when the children discussed skin colour, religion and leisure activities. In this part of the investigation, the school, sport and the media were influential in shaping the children’s perceptions of a Welsh person. By contrast, while language was not highlighted by the children as a significant feature when considering their own national identity, the children’s perceptions of a Welsh person placed an emphasis on the Welsh language in this association. Debates regarding national identity in the UK and Welsh contexts have recently been central to the public discourse. In Wales this has been particularly evident since devolution in 1999. This qualitative study not only contributes to the existing body of research regarding children’s ability to define their own national identity, but also to how this manifests itself in the devolved context of Wales.
PhD Thesis - School of Education
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