Functions of Scottish invented traditions

Note by mark.karl1995, updated more than 1 year ago
Created by mark.karl1995 almost 5 years ago


Notes for group presentation on invention of tradition

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The functions of tradition.Functionalism as a sociological perspective emphasizes how different parts of a system contribute to the stability of the whole. (e.g Durkheim on Suicide, Merton on Crime)Following Hobsbawm and Ranger, and Trevor-Roper we can look at how the invention of tradition in Scotland worked in the interests of Scottish nationalists

The epic poetry of Ossian (which Denise described as having been made up by Macpherson) contributed to the understanding on the part of people in Scotland that they had a history and culture that was distinct from England, or other parts of what became the United Kingdom. This contributed to a political desire for independence.It is important to note that it didn't really matter that Macpherson made things up because the effect of the myth was important - i.e. it was functional.

The tartan and the kilt provided symbols for people to emphasize their Scottish national identity. People could visually represent their "Scottishness", and assess the nationality of others. Having a family tartan provided a sense of legitimacy for powerful families.These "traditions" were propagated in a variety of ways. As nationalism coincided with the tourism industry and more global communication, the myth of these 'ancient' traditions spread even further - and contributed to the tourism industry.These symbols continue to be important to Scottish national identity, and we can see evidence for this in the 2014 referendum.It also means that when people complain about modern interpretations of tartan, they are failing to recognise that tartan itself is a modern invention, and that kilts were never uniquely Scottish.

Timeline of Scottish nationalist demands:

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