Religious identity in modern Scotland : culture, politics and football

Awarding institution
  • University of Strathclyde
Date of award
  • 1993
Thesis identifier
  • T7798
Qualification Level
Qualification Name
  • The central argument of this thesis is that football in Scotland has acquired characteristics which make it a nationalistic, political and cultural repository. This has its origins in the post-Reformation period in Scotland, Irish immigration into Scotland and Scotland/Britain's historically contentious relationship with Ireland. Part one examines the present situation as regards religious identity in Scotland. It reflects on the development and pervasiveness of Protestantism within society, emphasising its anti-Catholic dimension. Irish immigration to Scotland in the 19th and 20th century is briefly reflected upon within the context of a growing ethno-religious cleavage. The second part of the thesis concentrates upon football. It particularly addresses the 'Old Firm' of Glasgow Rangers and Celtic though substantial reference is made to other clubs and to the Scottish international arena. Here, much of the analysis is based upon an original survey of the political and social attitudes of a sample of the supporters of the nine largest clubs in Scotland. The penultimate section focuses specifically upon anti-Catholicism in Scotland and the present character of Irish identity, particularly in the west of Scotland. The nature of the cleavage between both cultures is explored. Various Protestant and Catholic social and political groupings were also surveyed and the results are reported in this section. The context within which anti-Catholicism in Scotland has developed is established together with the main tenets of the contemporary Irish Catholic identity in part four. The conclusion establishes that previous studies have utilised a flawed approach to analysing religious identity in modem Scotland. Despite being a secular country, religious identity is a dominant cultural idiom in Scotland and its academic neglect has resulted in its miscomprehension of the nature of Scottish society and politics. In sum the thesis suggest five major conclusions: 1) Although the term sectarianism has major limitations, it also has a relevance for religious identity in Scotland. 2) Football is a crucial element of ethno-religious identity in Scotland, and national, cultural, social and political expressions become more explicit in the Scottish football arena. 3) Anti-Catholic culture runs deep in Scotland. This thesis -has located it in its historical context, explained its wider ideological underpinnings and reflected its complexity and variability in modern society. 4) The term 'sectarianism' has the function of shrouding the character of the Irish immigrant experience and identity. It has also served a long term ideological purpose in its debasement of the Irish identity in Scotland. 5) Identity is a much more useful concept than sectarianism for our understanding of religious cleavage and cultures in Scottish society.
Resource Type
Date Created
  • 1993
Former identifier
  • 170754