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.


1. There has been dispute about the status of the name 'Rangers', following the team's liquidation and administration, but that name is used in the full title of the club as it now trades, and we use it here.

2. Justice Analytical Services (2013: 38).
We use the term "Catholic" in this report to mean "Roman Catholic".

3. Certain characteristics are protected by the Equality Act 2010: these are set out in s.4 and they include age, disability, gender reassignment (i.e. transgender), marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex and sexual orientation.

4. We offered refreshments (food and drink) at focus groups and gave a £10 shopping voucher to individual interviewees. Some researchers disapprove of financial rewards for participation because it can have an impact on who comes forward to take part. Our view was that this type of research is time-consuming and stressful for participants, so we decided to include this small token of thanks, and usually mentioned it only after the person had already agreed to participate.

5. For example, a quick search for the use of the word "sectarian" or "sectarianism" in LexisNexis (an online database of news articles) brings up 922 separate sources between December 2013 and December 2014, 884 of them in newspapers.

6. The term is often used to refer to Celtic fans, with or without the speaker intending a sectarian connotation, but also is used by some specifically to refer to people assumed to be Catholic.

7. Calhoun (1989: 389). See also the discussion of culpable ignorance in FitzPatrick (2008: 605ff).

8. The term comes from Dennis Sewell, cited and discussed further by Rosie (2004: 1-3).

9. The constitutional position of the Church of Scotland is unusual. It is the national church in Scotland, "representative of the Christian Faith of the Scottish people" under the Church of Scotland Act 1921, and is named in the Acts and Treaty of Union, but excepting its formal link with the monarch, it does not today have the constitutional role that the Church of England does.

10. Faulkner (1951: 80).

11. In contrast to this perception about religious/political linkages, see Rosie (2014).

12. See for instance Bruce et al (2004: 3).

13. This explanation fits well with the findings of the key meta-analytic test of over 500 studies by Pettigrew and Tropp (2006).

14. See e.g. Liu and Mills (2006).

15. See for instance a more detailed analysis of this phenomenon in McKerrell (2012).

16. See further Millar (2015).

17. 'Paradoxically' because this travelling support would bring genuine sectarian tensions that cannot then be simply dismissed as 'trouble between the two sides'.

18. For a fuller discussion of this polarisation by fans, see Theodoropoulou (2007).

19. The latest Scottish Social Attitudes Survey in 2014 found that Celtic and Rangers were each supported by 12% of the Scottish population (Hinchliffe et al 2015).

20. See also here Kelly (2011), though note his caveats about (a) the use of the term sectarianism and (b) the equating of Celtic and Rangers.

21. Rosie (2014) draws together data from Scottish Social Attitudes Surveys and Scottish Election Surveys to show how the proportion of those describing themselves as having 'no religion' has grown and how allegiance to the Church of Scotland among young people has plummeted over a generation. The proportion describing themselves as Catholic or other faiths has not changed much.

Similar results appear in the Scotland Census 2011 (Scottish Government 2014).

22. For instance, an examination of structural disadvantage in the 2013 evidence review on sectarianism concluded that 'Catholics are not disadvantaged in terms of income and occupational class and that younger Catholics were no longer disadvantaged in terms of educational attainment' (Justice Analytical Services 2013: 5, and Section 3).

23. These are defined as 'processions' for the purposes of the Police, Public Order and Criminal Justice (Scotland) Act 2006. See also Hamilton-Smith et al (2015).

24. The area surrounding Celtic's stadium, and a traditionally Irish Catholic area of the city.

25. A similar finding was highlighted in NFO Social Research (2003).


Email: Linzie Liddell

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