Published on January 7, 2008
National and state identities in the political discourse of a sub-state nation: the Scottish case: National and state identities in the political discourse of a sub-state nation: the Scottish case Daniel Soule, Glasgow Caledonian University Slide2: ‘Rival politicians and opposing factions present their different visions of the nation to their electorates. In order for the political argument to take place with the nation, there must be elements which are beyond argument. Different factions may argue about how ‘we’ should think of ‘ourselves’ and what is to be ‘our’ national destiny. In so doing they will take for granted the reality of ‘us’, the national place.’ (Billig, 1995: 95-96) Beyond ‘Big State’ Banal Nationalism Slide3: All Scotland’s political parties are nationalists National identity in a sub-state nation How is a national identity constructed when Nation and State are not synonymously conceived? How are national and state identities mediated in the discourse of politicians? ‘In an important sense, Scotland’s politicians are all Nationalists now […] The emergence of national(ist) frame of reference raises the question of how politics and culture engage. Oddly and unusually, there [is] no simple correspondence between cultural and political nationalism.’ (McCrone, 2001: p.126) Slide4: Party political descriptions of the nation and national identity Civic – public institutions: legal, educational, religious, democratic Non-civic – place, history, traditions & custom, ethnicity, linguistic Inclusive – unbounded and open Exclusive – bounded and selective Slide5: Expressions of Civic Nationalism Expressions of Non-civic Nationalism: Expressions of Non-civic Nationalism Slide8: Summary: Scottish ‘nationalism’ in Political Discourse Unionist and Separatist parties in devolved Scottish politics demonstrate similar conceptions of what Scotland is. Civic and non-civic realisations of Scottish nationalism co-occur. Civic e.g. legal, educational and civic institutions Non-civic e.g. language, culture, tradition and landscape Inclusive representations of Scottishness are shown to co-exist with other more bounded imaginings of Scotland as a culturally, historically and linguistically distinct place. Slide9: Locating Nation and State Separatist/Unionist ideological dichotomy pervades in Scotland as opposed to the Left/Right or Authoritarian/Liberal divide of Westminster. Linguistic analysis uses deixis and other textual indicators of location to investigate the relationship between Nation and State in Scottish political discourse. All parties, including Unionists, maintain a national Scottish and UK/British State distinction. Unionists portray the relationship as closer and more positive in relation to the national deictic centre, while Separatists, emphasise negative relations and increased distance from the national ‘we’. Slide10: Unionists mitigate the distinction and positively frame UK level issues when advantageous, modulating between National and State levels as necessary. Syntactic and semantic terms of equivalence e.g. ‘partnership’, ‘between’ Superordinate categorise e.g. ‘the UK economy’. Out-groups remain party political, with no locational aspect. Separatists (e.g. SNP and SSP) draw antithetical comparisons with non-Scottish out-groups, locating them as distal from the Scottish deictic centre. This anchors and aligns party political and national interests in the Scottish National centre. Locational labels e.g. English/UK/London labels Deictic makers e.g. ‘ours vs. theirs’, ‘us vs. them’ ‘here vs. there’ Modal deixis - metaphorical moral distance, equating to spatial distance Constructing Proximal In-groups and Distal Out-groups Conclusions: Conclusions Parties construct similar representations of the Scottish nation – including a mix of civic & non-civic and inclusive & exclusive conceptions. And all parties maintain a distinction between a Scottish national and British/UK State identity. Unionist/Separatist divide means that parties compete on the basis of what is in the best interest of the Nation within or ‘outwith’ the UK State. Unionist parties, while still constructing a positive national in-group, portray the UK or British state identity in positive terms, often equivalent in status, mitigating and perceived spatial or moral distance. Separatists, however, construct a negative distinction between national and state levels. Syntactically and semantically constructing the UK/British state level as spatially and morally distal from the national Scottish centre.