Ethnic minorities and political citizenship in Scotland

Emma Hill, Nasar Meer

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


There is a gap between the ‘aspirational pluralism’ espoused by political elites, and Scotland’s record on the representation of ethnic minorities in politics. In this chapter we explore the status of a Scottish multicultural citizenship broadly conceived, and identify three clusters. The first centres on an aspirational pluralism, characterized by an ambition to avoid ethnically determined barriers on membership of Scottish nationhood. The second concerns the competing ways in which Scotland’s imperial role is used by different political actors. The third cluster points to potential limitations in minority claims-making and recognition, and questions the extent to which national-level, elite ‘pluralist’ discourse is translated into a successful model of political participation. Ethnic minority populations are disproportionately under-represented in local government across Scotland as a result of three features of local government recruitment and selection processes that adversely impact the participation of ethnic minorities in local politics. We discuss their implications for representation at the local and national levels. We conclude with a discussion of how the gap between elite ‘aspirational pluralism’ and the reality of ethnic minority under-representation in Scottish politics might be addressed.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationOxford handbook of Scottish politics
EditorsMichael Keating
PublisherOxford University Press
ISBN (Print)9780198825098
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2020


  • Citizenship
  • Ethnicity
  • Politics
  • Representation
  • Scotland


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