Skip to content
Skip to main content

About this free course

Download this course

Share this free course

An introduction to intercultural competence in the workplace
An introduction to intercultural competence in the workplace

Start this free course now. Just create an account and sign in. Enrol and complete the course for a free statement of participation or digital badge if available.

4 Introducing national identity

National identity can seem quite clear-cut on the surface: We associate a particular flag, an anthem, an official language, a capital, important historical events, food and music with it. Such official agreements on national symbols usually lead to the assumption that national cultures are homogenous. You will explore whether this assumption holds in the next few activities with examples from the UK and Singapore.

Activity 6

Timing: 50 minutes

Read the quote below on national identity and try to fill in the blank:

Having a national identity is like having an _____________. You know you’ve got it somewhere, but you are not sure where it is. And if you’re honest, you would have to admit you’re pretty vague about what the small print says.

(McIlvaney, Herald, 6 March 1999, cited in Bechhofer and McCrone 2009)

What word are we looking for?

To use this interactive functionality a free OU account is required. Sign in or register.
Interactive feature not available in single page view (see it in standard view).


The right answer is ‘old insurance policy’! Did you guess it – or something similar? This quote is a metaphor for the difficulty in defining one’s own national identity and it describes how ‘nationalism is simultaneously obvious and obscure’ (Billig, 1995).