School of social science department of Sociology

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Department of Sociology

Course Guide


SO 4505

Sociology of Modern Scotland

The general regulations of the School of Social Science and advice to help you complete your course successfully are to be found in the relevant Handbook which is on the web at


Course Co-ordinator

The Course Co-ordinator for SO 4505 is Professor Andrew Blaikie (Room: F6, Edward Wright Building; e-mail:; Tel: 27- 2765)

Credit Rating

This course is offered in the second semester. It has a credit rating of 30; that is, it is expected to take up one-half of the time of a full-time student.

Course Aims and Learning Outcomes

The course has two purposes:

-to offer a framework for the sociological interpretation of the social structure and culture of modern Scotland and the circumstances that created them.

-to raise such fundamental problems in the social sciences as:

the nature of a 'nation';

the origins of nationalism and the dynamics of ethnic conflict;

the relations between economic, social and cultural change;

the relations between social reality and ideologies, images and imaginings.

Students will be expected to:

-define and describe the sociological concepts underpinning the analysis of modern Scotland;

-identify and illustrate the main areas of debate articulated in the course, consistent with the material in the weekly reading lists.

As with all our courses, we wish to encourage you to develop general, enduring skills. At the end of the course, therefore, we would expect you to be better able to:

-organize your studies to make effective use of Library resources and the popular media in Scotland;

-evaluate claims by judging the quality of evidence offered in support;

-express complex ideas in concise and intelligible form, both orally and in writing.

You will be expected to take two topics to greater depth by mastering the additional Library material listed. In addition you will be helped by staff feedback on your seminar presentations and essays to improve verbal and written communication skills. Please note that we will design the examination so that it tests knowledge of the course as a whole; being an expert on two or three topics will not be enough to secure a good grade.

Course Requirements

(a) Satisfactory attendance at, and participation in, tutorials;

(b) Delivery of two tutorial presentations;

(c) Submission of two essays by the relevant deadlines;

(d) Reading at least what is listed as essential;

(e) Achieving in the final examination.

Please be aware that the above really are requirements and that if you fail to meet them we may remove you from the course. The details of the School’s policy for enforcing requirements can be found at

We strongly suggest that you read that. We also recommend that, if you are having trouble meeting our requirements, you talk to your tutor.

The University’s procedures for monitoring student progress are explained on page 2 of the Handbook and at

Examination papers

Past examination papers are available at


There is one lecture per week in this course: on TUESDAYS at 1200 in room S86, Edward Wright Building.

The lectures are planned as a coherent series, and you will gain a full understanding of the issues they raise only if you attend each week.

Lecture Timetable

Week / Lecture

Week commencing

Lecture Title



No teaching this week



Images of Scotland

32 1


Nationalism and National Identity

33 2


The Highlands and Rural Lowlands

34 3


Industrial Scotland

35 4


A Peasant Society?

36 5


Emigration and Education

37 6


Immigration and Religion

Easter vacation

41 7


Politics and Identities

42 8


Tourism and Heritage

43 9


Scotland as a Stateless Nation



No lecture: revision [but note tutorials this week]

Lecture Outlines


For lectures I have provided brief written summaries of the main issues. These are not to be understood as substitutes for your own lecture notes, indeed you will find it difficult to interpret them if you have not listened to the full 50 minutes. However, I hope they will help you to clarify and structure some of the arguments we discuss. Because there is a lot of material to get through in the time available, lectures will contain a considerable amount of detail. Unless you are especially adept at shorthand, I would suggest that you note down only what you consider to be key points: you will gain more by sitting back and listening than by attempting frantically to note down everything you hear. Remember: the Course Guide provides full reading lists and plenty Readings, and relevant chapters in the Course text (McCrone) are indicated.

Lecture 1 Nationalism and National Identity

1 What is Scotland and how are we to understand Scotland sociologically? Not a state, but a nation within the British nation-state. Therefore, need first to understand what constitutes a nation. This, however, far from straightforward…

2 Problems with ‘naturalist’ definitions. (1) Geographical determinism: physical landscape not sufficient (e.g. Haiti and Dominican Republic – same island, two countries; Switzerland – mountain barriers internally but still one country). (2) Historical determinism: anachronism problem – 14th-century Scottish ‘nation’ not what we would understand as a nation . Cannot read the present into the past. Both approaches face key difficulty of there being far more candidates for nationhood that manage it: why don’t all the linguistic, religious and regional groups in Scotland (or anywhere else) form separate nations?

3 By contrast, look at constructionist definitions. Gellner: nationalism invents the nation, therefore have to consider what are the preconditions for rise of nationalism. Gellner links to industrialization and modernization: division of labour, specialization and social mobility with shift from hierarchical to egalitarian societies; demise of universalizing religious views. Citizenship and common education system promote shared vision of a society’s history.

4 ‘Imagined community’ (Anderson). Renan (1882) What is a Nation?: ‘a large-scale solidarity, constituted by the feeling of sacrifices that one has made in the past and of those one is prepared to make in the future’. The nation as a structure of feeling. Anderson defines the nation as: (1) an ‘an imagined political community’ an abstract attachment to members of a community most of whom we can never know personally; (2) limited - both non-universalist (cf. claims of some religious and political creeds), and defined against outside ‘others’; (3) sovereign - there is no greater power within its domain; (4) a prevailing sense of ‘deep horizontal comradeship’, regardless of actual inequalities.

  1. Who belongs to a nation? Who is a Scot? Smith: ethnic versus civic nationalism.

Lecture 2 Economic Development: the Highlands and Rural Lowlands

Economic Development and Social Change in the Highlands and Islands

1 GELLNER: modernization undermines old hierarchies, but regional imbalances essential to capitalist industrialization. HECHTER develops INTERNAL COLONIALISM thesis: Celtic Fringe as exploited colony deliberately retarded by the metropolitan centre. Does this model fit Scottish Highlands?

2 Changes since 1745: clan system dismantled; communications developed; Gaelic and Roman Catholicism supplanted by English language and Protestantism. Emigration and eviction of tenants and subtenants as capitalist form of economic exchange replaces feudal obligations of landlords.

3 Crofters' agitation of late nineteenth century secures tenure and rights, but depopulation continues until 1970s (1801: Highlands = 20% Scots pop.; 1971 = 6%).

4 Confused reading of Highland history sees Highlands as traditional and backward. This reflected in minimal impact of policymaking. However crofters develop a different strategy.

a. Govt. initiatives: HIDB sees role as promoting development via focal point strategy - failure (Invergordon smelter, Wiggins Teape pulp mill). HIE replaces HIDB - decentralized strategy and small business ethos, but hands firmly tied as an instrument of govt.

b. Claim of crofting (see HUNTER): aim for communities to be less dependent on agriculture through diversification/flexibility in occupations. Now chimes in with EC thinking (and grants) i.e. small-scale and environmentally friendly.

5 Repopulation via stabilization of crofting and counter-stream migration. White settlers and tourists see Highlands as wilderness and wish to preserve both greenery and way of life. Irony: this mythology clashes with crofters' pragmatism (fish farms and factories provide work), but tourism also a mainstay for Highlanders.

Future still depends on responses to decisions made outwith region (Britain, EC and global economy).

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