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Flowers of Scotland?: a sociological analysis of national identities, Rugby Union and Association Football in Scotland

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posted on 09.02.2011, 09:42 authored by John Kelly
This thesis analyses the relationship between national identity and sport within Scotland, focusing on rugby union and association football. It investigates the complexity of defining a sporting `Scottish national identity', and suggests the possibility of competing definitions of national identity existing in Scotland within and across the two sports. The aim of the study is to critically examine existing assumptions surrounding Scottish sporting nationalism, to situate the conspicuously absent rugby union within the literature, and to locate contemporary Scottish sporting nationalism in post-1999 Scotland. Through the use of semi-structured interviews and observation, empirical data was collected and analysed utilising a cultural studies theoretical framework. The theoretical explanations have been informed by the work of Pierre Bourdieu's explanatory formula of practice and, at a secondary level, by Erving Goffman's dramaturgical model, demonstrating the compatibility of synthesising these two social theorists' concepts in formulating original research explanations. The findings suggest that the national identity and sporting relationship in Scotland is multi-faceted with a variety of overlapping factors contributing to sports supporters' feelings of national identification. Elements of a subtle class habitus emerge as a primary facet shaping national identity perception across both sports, revealing a class-based relationship to accumulating social and cultural capital at local and national levels. While national identity in Scottish sport is shown to be a factor shaping supporter identification, the typical understanding of national identity previously utilised and accepted in much of the literature is shown to be overly simplistic. Furthermore, other factors are shown to shape and affect local and national sporting identification in meaningful ways, which are often overlooked at the expense of seeking out the `national' explanation.



  • Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences


© John Kelly

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Doctoral Thesis. Submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the award of Doctor of Philosophy of Loughborough University.

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