Understanding Of Scottish Society


The concept of a nation state has only

emerged over the last couple of

centuries, before this point less

advanced and coherent states

managed the affairs of the populous.

The nation state is the overlapping of

two separate features. The nation is the

identity that individuals relate to within

the society. This can exist on its own, as

all that is needed is a person to feel that

they have a connection with others on no

more than shared belonging. The state

is used to take national feelings of

loyalty and use them to effectively

govern peoples lives. The state almost

like a governmental overlay for a

national identity to operate within.

Scotland can be seen in this light

because it is a fine example of what

nationhood looks like, without the

apparatus of the state to cloud the

picture. Scotland has this dual identity of

Scottish nation within the confines of a

British state.

In answering this question it is necessary to

investigate the origins of modern nation states.

Firstly examining what the term 'Nation State'

means by breaking it down into its two parts. Lastly I

will examine how accurate a term the 'Nation State'

is when applied to Scottish Society.

The 'Nation State' is a recent phenomena, with most

of human history being founded on stateless

societies. These stateless societies refer to the

tribal and clan systems that existed across the

globe, before the emergence of larger societies

such as Empires and Kingdoms. These societies

were able to function as they were relatively small.

The whole or at least a large part of the community

could be involved in any decision that need to be

made, although because of their size complex

decision making processes were needed. With the

increase of population and the subsequent

competition for limited resources, systems started

to emerge that could handle the new demands.

Economies started to produce more than what was

required by the community, so the surplus was trade

with neighbouring communities. This process also

created the need for higher authority to govern the

transactions between the communities. These

embryonic communities developed into what can be

described as traditional states, with a sovereign

leader such as a King or Emperor who ruled

absolutely. They could do this because they held the

reins of the states military forces. In Max Weber's

view this was the critical component of any state.

For a state to be legitimate it must have a monopoly

of the use of violence within the confines of its own

territory. However usually this was only a last resort

and the ordinary people were quite unaware of the

state developing around them. A limited form of

government would emerge to ensure that the Head

of the State could rule effectively. Up until the

Industrial Revolution this was the most common

form of state in Europe. Since the industrial

revolution the demands of modern society and its

increasing skilled populous has meant that

traditional states have been swept away. Nation

States now cover the surface of the world and with

few exceptions all the world's population can claim

to be a citizen of a nation state.

The Nation State is a combination of two different

terms, a nation or a state can exist quite

independent of each other. The nation consists of a

community that shares common language, values

and customs. The nation can be broken down into

four parts. The narrative is were the customs and

stories of the nation are kept alive, by people

retelling them to the next generation and also by

reinventing them so as they take on new relevance

to the people. People consider the nation to be a

ancient symbol that keep's them in touch with their

past and previous generations. This connection

gives people a sense of belonging that all people

seek in their lives. The ancient aspect of nations

can be overplayed as many are of a quite recent

origin. This last point is important as historical

accuracy is not always of the highest priority when

the myth of a nation is being retold. In fact

sometimes the tradition can be of pure invention,

but if it serves the purpose of creating identity for

the people then it will survive and flourish. The

Victorian invention of tartan in Scotland is perfect

example of this fabricated history suiting the needs

of a alienated populous. Lastly the purity of the race

is often cited as a requirement for membership of a

nation. This purity often takes the shape of

possessing certain physical and mental

requirements such as all Swedish people are tall,

blond and blue eyed or that Black people can not be

identified as being British because of their colour.

Again this point is open to debate as all nations are

a mixture of different cultures and races. However

this purity is something that