Publication - Research and analysis

Scottish Social Attitudes Survey 2014: Public Attitudes to Sectarianism in Scotland

Published: 20 Feb 2015
Part of:

This report sets out key findings from the 2014 Scottish Social Attitudes survey (SSA) on public attitudes to sectarianism in Scotland.

98 page PDF

1.3 MB

98 page PDF

1.3 MB

Scottish Social Attitudes Survey 2014: Public Attitudes to Sectarianism in Scotland

98 page PDF

1.3 MB


1. Schools associated with a particular religious denomination - in Scotland, this is most commonly the Catholic Church.

2. The Advisory Group have been consulting on this definition, acknowledging that it may not cover every form or manifestation of sectarianism and that it should be an evolving and adaptable definition which can be drawn on to apply to individual circumstances.

3. See

4. Before the first question using the term "sectarianism", interviewers were asked to read out: "As you may know, sectarianism is a term used to describe division, bigotry and discrimination rooted in religion. For the purposes of this survey, I would like you to think only about divisions between followers of different Christian traditions, such as Protestants and Catholics."

5. Findings from the Scottish Crime and Justice Survey suggest that around 10% of adults experienced incidents of insults, pestering or intimidation in the previous 12 months. Of this 10%, only 2-3% identified sectarianism as the reason for this, and 3% identified religion. Thus, around 1 in 200 experienced such insults, pestering or intimidation in the previous year.

6. Schools associated with a particular religious denomination - in Scotland, this is most commonly the Catholic Church.

7. It is worth noting that there appears to be a greater difference between the proportion claiming they think of themselves as Protestant (30%) and the proportion who feel they belong to a Protestant Church (25%) compared with the proportion identifying with (15%) and belonging (14%) the Roman Catholic church. This may suggest a stronger relationship between religious identity and a feeling of actual affiliation with the church among Catholics compared with Protestants.

8. Respondents were asked about the religious identity they chose in response to the question described in paragraph 2.10. For example, those who said they were Protestant at this question were then asked how strongly they agreed or disagreed that 'Being Protestant is an important part of who I am.'

9. Although variations in perceptions of prejudice against Catholics by links with Ireland was only marginally significant in regression analysis which also took account of other factors.

10. The Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation (SIMD) 2009 measures the level of deprivation across Scotland - from the least deprived to the most deprived areas. It is based on 38 indicators in seven domains of: income, employment, health, education skills and training, housing, geographic access and crime.

11. Note also that the Nagelkerke R-square (a measure of model goodness of fit - i.e. how successfully the independent variables predict the dependent variable) for these analyses were quite low. This indicates that it is quite difficult to identify all the drivers of believing there is prejudice against Catholics and Protestants in Scotland.

12. Those who mentioned at least one of the west coast / west of Scotland, Strachclyde, Ayrshire or Lanarkshire. They may also have mentioned Glasgow.

13. Those who mentioned another part of Scotland, not in the west. They may have also mentioned Glasgow or somewhere else in the west.

14. 60% of Celtic supporters, 55% of Rangers fans, and 52% of supporters of other teams.

15. 26% of those from other religions agreed with this statement, but this was based on a very small sample size (49) and a high proportion (35%) said they did not know if sectarianism would always exist or not.

16. Figure 3.5 also shows that those aged 18-24 were twice as likely as older age groups to say that sectarianism is not a problem in Scotland at all (14%, compared with 6-8% of other age groups).

17. Of course, age and education are likely to be associated - older people (aged 65 and above are also more likely to have no qualifications. However, analysis that controls for the relationship between age and education in fact suggests that education is more strongly associated with attitudes to whether or not sectarianism will always exist. Logistic regression analysis including age and education indicates that education, but not age, is independently and significantly related to the odds of disagreeing that 'sectarianism will always exist'.

18. These differences are not significant.

19. 36% of those who perceived football to be a contributor thought that the government was paying too little attention to sectarian divisions, compared with 15% of those who did not perceive football to be a contributor (including those who said sectarianism is not a problem). 36% of those who perceived Orange Order marches as contributing said the government was not giving enough attention to sectarian marches, compared with 20% of those who did not. Differences by attitudes to Irish Republican marches were not significant.

20. There are currently 366 state-funded Roman Catholic schools in Scotland, one state-funded Jewish school and three state funded Episcopalian schools


21. The self-completion was used for questions where there was concern about social acceptability bias, whereby respondents answer in the way they would like to be perceived by the interviewer, rather than giving an 'honest' response.

22. In the self-completion part of the questionnaire

23. There were only 43 respondents who said they were of a non-Christian religion, so caution should be applied concerning any findings about this group.

24. Regression analysis was conducted to determine which other factors were most closely associated with agreement that one is more comfortable around people of similar religious beliefs (or no religious beliefs, in the case of those with no religion). Full details of this analysis are provided in Annex B.

25. Regression analysis of likelihood of having experienced any of the types of sectarian discrimination asked about by religious identity; support (or not) for Celtic, Rangers, or any Scottish team; whether respondents live in the West vs. the rest of Scotland; and whether or not they have family in Ireland shows that support for Celtic is significantly and independently related to experience of discrimination even after religious identity is controlled for.

26. The interview programme automatically filled in the respondent's religion here based on the religion they thought of themselves as.

27. Like many national surveys of households or individuals, in order to attain the optimum balance between sample efficiency and fieldwork efficiency the sample was clustered. The first stage of sampling involved randomly selecting postcode sectors. The sample frame of postcode sectors was also stratified (by urban-rural, region and the percentage of people in non-manual occupations) to improve the match between the sample profile and that of the Scottish population. For further details of the sample design, see Para 5 below.

28. See for details.

29. See for further details on the SIMD.

30. These variables were created by the ScotCen/NatCen Survey Methods Unit. They are based on SIMD scores for all datazones, not just those included in the sample - so an individual who lives in the most deprived quintile of Scotland will also be included in the most deprived quintile in the SSA dataset.


Email: Linzie Liddell