Ways of seeing Scotland

Welcome to a new resource designed to shine light on the ethnographic study of Scotland and to introduce some of the fantastic research and writing that’s emerging on facets of life around the country!

Though our home base is in anthropology, we’ll be speaking to scholars of all disciplines who are developing our understanding of contemporary Scotland, as well as revisiting some classic Scottish ethnographic works.

Scotland has had an important place in the development of ideas in the social sciences. To offer a couple of examples: Erving Goffman’s fieldwork in Unst, Shetland between 1949 and 1951 defined the themes of his enormously influential work The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life, while the first anthropological study of policing, Michael Banton’s The Policeman in the Community (1964) was based on ethnographic research with Edinburgh City police. Ethnographic perspectives have traced developments in Scotland through the impact of North Sea Oil (see e.g. the work of Jane Hurwitz Nadel), the cloning of Dolly the Sheep (see Sarah Franklin’s Dolly Mixtures), and the politics around the Scottish Independence referendum (see e.g. Alexander Smith).

The goal of this resource will be to pick up on some of these threads of past scholarship, while showcasing emerging work and perspectives that help us to understand Scottish society today. We hope that this will help fuel excitement at all levels for the potential of anthropology in Scotland. In particular, we hope that it will stimulate new ideas for anthropology students, especially for those taking the SQA unit “Ethnographies of People in Scotland” towards their HNC or HND in social sciences, or those thinking about project or dissertation work in University.


Contributions so far:

“Empty stretches of time” – an interview with Laura Roe on solitude and poly-drug use in post-industrial Scotland

From offensive football chants to rethinking secularisation: an interview with Joe Webster on his recent research on the religion of Orange politics in Scotland

“There is nothing more dangerous to power than a working-class person with a thirst for knowledge” – Interview with Colin Burnett, writer and sociologist