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Sectarianism in Scotland: A ‘West of Scotland’ Problem, a Patchwork or a Cobweb?

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Simon McKerrellORCiD, Dr Michael Richardson


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Drawing on research carried out for the Scottish Government in 2014, this article explores how people experience sectarianism in Scotland today. For some, sectarianism is manifestly part of their everyday experience, but for others it is almost invisible in their social world. The article sets out a metaphor of sectarianism experienced like a cobweb in Scotland; running strongly down the generations and across masculine culture particularly, but experienced quite differently by different people depending on their social relationships. Using the examples of song and marching, the article suggests that sectarian prejudice should be conceived of as much as a cultural phenomenon as in social and legal terms. A multidisciplinary and intergenerational approach to tackling sectarian prejudice would help emphasise its cultural and relational construction. Much can also be learned from examining the broader research on prejudice worldwide, rather than treating Scottish sectarianism as if it is a unique and inexplicable quality of the national character.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Goodall K, McKerrell S, Markey J, Millar S, Richardson M

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Scottish Affairs

Year: 2015

Volume: 24

Issue: 3

Pages: 288-307

Online publication date: 01/08/2015

Acceptance date: 02/04/2015

ISSN (print): 0966-0356

ISSN (electronic): 2053-888X

Publisher: Edinburgh University Press


DOI: 10.3366/scot.2015.0079


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