Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


In the mid-1960s, British political scientists claimed that their society was free of significant regional division. Their analysis was based on the theory of political and social diffusion originally put forward by Marx. However, electoral success for nationalist parties in Scotland and Wales in the late 1960s cast doubt on this theory. In response, two theories were put forward ascribing this nationalist phenomenon to economic causes. Michael Hechter argued that nationalism in Scotland and Wales was due to resentment caused by the existence of economic disparities between both countries and England. Tom Nairn, however, claimed that Scottish nationalism was a consequence of economic 'over-development', a situation created by the discovery of North Sea oil. In an attempt to explain nationalism in Scotland and Wales comprehensively, this thesis examines all three theories.;While, in keeping with diffusion theory, Scottish and Welsh regionalism did decline as a consequence of industrialization, this process was incomplete. In Wales, a strong Welsh national identity remained in rural Welsh-speaking areas. In Scotland, while British national sentiment became dominant, it did not completely erase an underlying Scottish identity. Together, these identities provided a basis for nationalist parties.;Contrary to Hechter's theory, this thesis shows that economic disparities did not contribute to demands for separatism. Rather, the weaknesses of the Scottish and Welsh economies bound both countries closer to England. While Nairn's explanation of the rise of Scottish nationalism is helpful, it fails to explain why the Scottish Nationalist Party was already powerful before oil was discovered.;Rejecting the 'economic determinism' of Hechter and Nairn, this thesis explains fluctuating support for nationalist parties in terms of how both they and the unionist parties reacted to political opportunities and socio-economic changes in the 1960s and 1970s. Nationalist party successes were due, partly at least, to their own efforts. The decline of Scottish nationalism in the 1970s resulted from the development of the Labour party as an effective 'broker' of different interests within Britain. This important role for political parties has been overlooked by sociological theories such as those of Nairn and Hechter.



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