Scottish Longitudinal Study
Development & Support Unit

Completed Projects

Project Title:

Sectarianism in Scotland

Project Number:



Christopher Holligan (School of Education, University of Paisley)

Start Date:

Approved on 24-05-2007


Steve Bruce et al (Edinburgh University Press, 2004) present analyses of the Scottish Social Attitudes Survey (2001), arguing that in the early part of the 20th century disagreement over religion did manifest itself in choice of marriage partners. With the growth of the Irish Catholic middle class with people becoming teachers, doctors and policemen dilution of the impact on partner selection has occurred. They report that intermarriage, based on the 2001 SSAS, is increasing, with some 50% married Catholics marrying non Catholics. They claim that there is increasing tolerance in society and the limited numbers of sectarian related football violence is misrepresented and that sectarian football songs do not demonstrate the deeper existence of those attitudes, but are merely ‘wind ups’.

Bruce and Glendinning (2003) found that religion influenced various attitudes and that persons from a Catholic background were more likely to live in disadvantaged areas and inhabit a different social class category compared with Protestants living in the urban SW Scotland. In relation to mixed marriages 10% would be concerned if a relative married outside their faith, or denomination. Age affected this; 50% of married Catholics, aged 25-34 had married non Catholics. In 2003 Glasgow City Council found that 75% of 1000 people asked said that sectarianism does exist, a result seemingly at odds with the overall tenor of Bruce et al claims about Scotland. Nor unlike Bruce et al did they think it was “becoming a thing of the past”. Some 5% even avoided parts of Glasgow because of their religion. In addition a poll for Radio Five Live (May, 2003) showed that some 13% of people living in Scotland claimed experience of sectarian abuse, with Catholics being more likely to be attacked than Protestants.

By examining the extent of intermarriage between Catholics and non-Catholics we will be able to obtain an indicator of the extent of the separateness of the Catholic community in different parts of Scotland.

This application specifies the use of 2001 census data only. If initial analyses are successful and meaningful there are further data in the SLS that could be used to inform these analyses. This includes 1991 Census data (to determine social mobility) marriages (and perhaps divorces when they become available) taking place between 1991 and 2001.

The purpose is to examine what the SLS can tell us around the theme of sectarianism. In particular we wish to explore patterns of inter-marriage between those with a Roman Catholic upbringing and those with other backgrounds, comparing the Strathclyde area with the rest of Scotland. We would like to explore rates of Catholics marrying non-Catholics and relate this to age, gender, social class and education. The data will be the 2001 census data.

There is a substantial literature (see refs) on this, but it has not covered the whole of Scotland.

In summary the basic aim is to determine if there is any evidence of what could be construed as a sectarian divide in Scotland and if it differs by region, particularly in relation to the Glasgow area.


Bradley, J (ed.), (2004) Celtic Minded: Essays on Religion, Politics, Society, Identity and Football, Argyll Press.

Bond, R with Rosie, M., (2002) National Identities in Post Devolution Scotland, in Scottish Affairs no 40, 34- 53.

Bruce, S, Glendinning, A., Paterson, I & Rosie, M (2004) Sectarianism in Scotland, Edinburgh.

Bruce, S with Glendinning, A., (2003) 'Religious Beliefs and Differences' in Bromley, C., Curtis, J., Hinds, K., Park, A., (eds.), Devolution: Scottish Answers to Scottish Questions?, Edinburgh, 86- 115.

Bruce, S with Glendinning, A., (2003) Full Report of Research Activities and Results: 'Religion in Modern Scotland' 2001 Scottish Social Attitudes Survey ESRC Sponsored Religion Module, ESRC.

Finn, G., (2003) 'Sectarianism: A Challenge for Scottish Education', in Bryce, T. & Hume W., Scottish Education (2 nd Edition), 897- 907.

Hussain, A., with Miller, W., (2004) Anglophobia and Islamophobia in Scotland, ESRC.

Kelly. E., (2003) Challenging Sectarianism in Scotland: The Prism of Racism, in Scottish Affairs no 42 , 32- 56.

Kelly, E., (2002) Hate Crime: the struggle for justice in Scotland, in Crime Justice Matters no 48, 16- 17.

NFO Social Research, (2003) Sectarianism in Glasgow- Final Report, Glasgow City Council.

Office of the Chief Statistician., (2004) Analysis of Ethnicity in the 2001 Census, HMSO.

Office of the Chief Statistician., (2005- forthcoming) Analysis of Religion Data in the 2001 Census, HMSO.

Paterson, I., (2002) Sectarianism and Municipal Housing Allocation in Glasgow, in Scottish Affairs no 39, 39- 53.

Rosie, M., (2004 forthcoming) Sectarian Myth in Scotland: Of Bitter Memory and Bigotry, Palgrove.

Rosie, M., with Bond, R., (2003) Identity Matters: The Personal and Political Significance of Feeling Scottish in Bromley, C., Curtis, J.,

Hinds, K., Park, A., (eds.), Devolution: Scottish Answers to Scottish Questions?, Edinburgh, 116- 136.

Scottish Executive, (2003) Attitudes to Discrimination, HMSO.

Wells, P., with Williams, R., (2003) Sectarianism at work: Accounts of employment discrimination against Catholics in Scotland, in Ethnic and Racial Studies vol 26 no 4, 632- 662.

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