Community Experiences of Sectarianism

This study explored community experiences and perceptions of sectarianism, based on in-depth qualitative research within five case study communities across Scotland. The insights obtained provide depth and context to other research about sectarianism, including quantitative survey and national criminal offending data.

Appendix 1: Demographic data

All of those who participated in the research were asked to complete a basic demographic questionnaire that was used to ascertain gender, sexuality, class and socio-economic background, (dis)ability, ethnicity and religious affiliation (including for instance church membership).

The aim of adding this extra burden to the fieldwork was to enable our team to monitor the diversity of the sample and to help indicate that the overall sample we recruited was well-targeted with regard to the broader Scottish population. We also considered the demographic information during the analysis, because the personal identities of participants may help explain their experiences of, and responses to, sectarianism.

We anticipated that this questionnaire would probably yield partial data because the researchers were advised to take particular care to emphasise that not all questions need be answered. Nonetheless, most participants were content to answer most of the questions.

Apart from a couple of questions used in other Scottish Government surveys, we selected ours from the ONS harmonised questions, country-specific for Scotland:

and the Scottish Government's Core and Harmonised Survey Questions:

A second religion question was taken from the 2001 Scottish Census. We added a transgender option to the question about gender.


We have data for 72 participants and have drawn out results for key characteristics. However, we should emphasise again that qualitative research involves too few participants for reliable statistical claims to be made, so these data are not set out here for that purpose.

We focused on hearing from a wide range of people, rather than prescribing fixed proportions for the representation of any particular group. What was important in this project was to aim to meet as broad as possible a selection of Scots, spending enough time with them to explore their perceptions and experiences.

Gender: 39 women and 33 men. No-one identified as transgender.

Sexuality: Most were heterosexual; two described themselves as gay and one as bisexual.

Age: The participants were spread quite evenly across all adult age bands, with slight over-representation of the 25-34 group. Our most senior participant was 96 years old.

Disability: Although we met people wherever was convenient for them, it is likely that a study based on social connections will exclude people with some disabilities. Nonetheless, 8 of our participants described themselves as having a long-term disability.

Ethnicity: Most described themselves as Scottish, several of whom also identified with a Mixed category (using the Scottish Census questions). The range of other participants - several of whom also identified themselves as Mixed - included people who described themselves as English, Other British, Irish, Polish, Asian, African and Latin-American.

Religion of origin: We sought out participants from the smaller faith groups in Scotland, so these are represented in higher numbers in our research than would be the case if this was a proportionate sample of the Scottish population. We interviewed several individuals belonging to or born into smaller Christian or Christian-related groupings in Scotland, such as Free Church of Scotland, Methodist, Scottish Episcopalian, Anglican, Baptist, Orthodox, Baha'i and Evangelical. Several others aligned themselves with a variety of other faiths, such as Sikhism, Buddhism and an unspecified 'spiritual' designation.

Around a third of our participants were born into Roman Catholicism; most of the rest were born into the Church of Scotland.

Current religious observance: There was a good mix of participants, including practising observers from the main denominations, inactive believers, atheists, secularists and those for whom religion was of little interest.

Class/wealth: Income was represented in all bands, from people living alone on annual incomes of less than £5,200, to those on £78,000 and above. We were able to interview only one person who stated that they were in the +£78,000 band, although some participants were in the +£70,000 band, and some owned homes of very high value.

In contrast, several of our participants were living on very low incomes in areas that are classified as suffering severe social deprivation. Educational attainment was represented at all levels, from School Leaving Certificate or O-Grades/Standards to postgraduate.


Email: Linzie Liddell

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