What is Scottishness?

The commentator Matthew Parris came up with an interesting way of defining cultural identity recently. It can either be based on ‘affinity’ or ‘affiliation’. Affinity is based on who you are – your cultural norms, attitudes, religion perhaps, language. Affiliation is who you choose to be, which badge you want to wear. So the supporters of Manchester United and Manchester City, for example, have a very different affiliation although their affinity is in fact very close.

Something similar is happening with Scotland and England (see my article in today’s Scotsman). They’re becoming more similar every day, but politically drifting apart. In other words their affinity is converging while their affiliation is diverging.

The question is, how this will play out in the forthcoming independence referendum. Will culture follow politics or vice versa? Whichever side can articulate their idea of Scottishness most effectively will be on to a winner.

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