This dissertation is based on fieldwork which was carried out in and around Edinburgh over a period of 6 months from January 1998 to July 1998. It investigates some contemporary perspectives on Scottish nationalism, symbolism and identity within a specific time span - the period and process leading up to the establishment of the first Scottish Parliament in almost 300 years. In order to shed some light on the dynamic character of this period, which I see as liminal, I have chosen to concentrate on certain cultural revivals which I believe are important in the construction of Scottish identity. In order to underline Scottish distinctiveness - demonstrated among other things through these cultural revivals - Scots can be said to define England and the English as the "Significant Other". Although Great Britain also consists of Wales and Northern Ireland, I have refrained from making them an integral part of this dissertation.
My thesis also addresses aspects of nationalist ideology, focusing on cultural as well as political nationalism. However, my main argument deals mostly with cultural nationalism as I see this form as being most prevalent in Scotland at the moment. By giving examples from my fieldwork, I argue that cultural autonomy from England, or having a sense of cultural autonomy, is more important for the majority of the Scottish population than total political autonomy. The reasons for this are further analyzed in the dissertation.
The use of key symbols in the construction of Scottish history and identity is also demonstrated in this thesis. By analyzing a Burns Supper as a commemorative ceremony, I attempt to show how certain aspects of Scotland's past are celebrated, creating a link to the present as well as to the future. This ritual setting thereby functions as a social arena - where a Scots´ sense of identity may be demonstrated and negotiated.