It’s Scotland’s Oil: Energy and National Identity in Newspaper Coverage of Scottish Independence

Mechlin, Hart

This study explores how newspapers in Scotland and the UK presented the issue of oil in the run-up to the September 2014 referendum on Scottish independence. More specifically, it explores the extent to and means by which newspapers utilized oil to contribute to national identity discourse. By combining methods from quantitative and qualitative approaches to textual analysis, this study found that both Scottish and British newspapers referenced “oil” in primarily political and economic contexts, but to some extent, incorporated “oil” into discursive strategies of national identity construction. Analysis of the discursive strategies revealed that Scottish papers used oil to construct a vision of a political future and to dismantle a British identity by bringing up historical disputes, while British papers used oil to deconstruct the imagination of a politically independent Scotland. The findings on how oil played into the national identity discourse build on the nascent literature regarding links between energy and national identity, and support the conclusions of Scottish social attitude surveys that identify a general Scottish distrust of the UK government.

Geographic Areas


Also Published In

The Journal of Politics and Society

More About This Work

Academic Units
Helvidius Group
Helvidius Group of Columbia University
Published Here
April 26, 2016