Sectarianism, criminalisation and the civilising process in Scotland

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


    An absence of militant Protestantism led sociologists to argue that sectarianism has only ever been a negligible problem in Scotland, which, they confidently predicted decades ago, the process of advancing secularization would shortly kill off for good (Bruce et al, 2004; Rosie, 2004). Except that it didn’t. Public concern about ‘sectarianism’ did not fade away as predicted but instead became a major political and legal issue in Scotland, attracting polarized academic camps. Sectarianism’s afterlife requires further explanation beyond generalities about social and political change. Specifically, this chapter accounts for shifts in the balance of power between and within established and outsider groups in Scotland (Elias and Scotston, 1994). Understood in this way, heightened discourses and recent legislation to combat ‘sectarianism’ reflects a belated recognition of the more equal power balance between a formerly weak outsider group, Roman Catholics of Irish descent, and a no longer cohesive powerful majority group, Scottish Protestants.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationCrime, justice and society in Scotland
    EditorsHazel Croall, Gerry Mooney, Mary Munro
    Place of PublicationAbingdon
    Number of pages16
    ISBN (Electronic)9781315795669
    ISBN (Print)9780415750301
    Publication statusPublished - 2016


    • Sectarianism
    • Civilising process
    • Power ratio
    • Group cohesion
    • National habitus


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