Religious and political identity

In comparison with some other European countries, and with the one notable exception of Northern Ireland, neither religion nor politics is an important part of people's social identity in modern Britain. This is partly because the two do not, as they do in some other countries, go together in any significant way. Of course, there are many people who regard themselves as belonging to this or that church or party. Some people among the minority who are regular churchgoers and the very small minority who are active members of political parties feel this sense of belonging strongly and deeply. It may form a very important part of their own idea of themselves as individuals. But even for these people it plays little part in determining other aspects of their lives such as where they work, which trade union they belong to, who their friends are or who they would like their neighbours to be. For the vast majority of parents in the country (some ethnic groups excepted), the religion or voting habits of their future son-in-law’s or daughter-in-law’s family are of only passing interest and rarely the major cause of objection to the proposed marriage.