Does sectarianism exist in Scotland? A statistical examination of Catholic and Protestant intermarriage patterns

Holligan, C. & Raab, G. (2010) British Society for Population Studies annual conference 2010 University of Exeter, UK, 13 - 15 September 2010 [SLS]

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In recent years there continues to be debate about the extent to which Scotland is afflicted by religious sectarianism. Our paper contributes to the debate about sectarianism in Scotland by using 2001 Census data available via the Scottish Longitudinal Study of over 111 thousand couples. Bruce et al (2005, 151) argue that sectarianism “is more a myth than a social reality”. Others (Walls & Williams, 2003, 632; Walls & Williams, 2005) argue that on the contrary there is a “continuing experience of sectarian discrimination in work...affecting Glasgow’s Irish Catholic community”, during the period 1950-2000. Lindsay (2000, 363) discovered that rather than Catholics being held back from moving up the social scale that their status has probably risen “to a greater extent than non-Catholics” in Scotland, a position more consistent with Bruce et al, but the position with older Catholics was more problematic. We have used data from cohabiting couples where both were born in Scotland, aged 16-74 and raised in a Christian denomination or with no religion. The sample represents around 11% of all such couples in the Census. One major result of our statistical analysis is that the proportion of inter-sectarian (Roman Catholic and Protestant) couples has increased steeply for the youngest age groups and in the West of Scotland, these make up 25% of all couples. This measure of chronological change as an index of a dilution of sectarianism is perhaps consistent with recent studies of Glasgow concerning young people’s marginal sectarian habits (Holligan & Deuchar, 2009; Deuchar & Holligan, 2010) compared with significant territoriality, in the case of young people. It is concluded however that religious inter-marriage is not necessarily indicative of a demise in sectarianism, being for instance a symptom of its putative decline; and also that despite being in inter-marriages members of those couples may nevertheless continue to display sectarian attitudes in other contexts, such as football.

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Output from project: 2007_008


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