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School of Social and Political Science: Staff profiles


David McCrone

David McCrone
Professor David McCrone
Emeritus Professor of Sociology
Chisholm House High School Yards Edinburgh UK EH1 1LZ
+44 (0)131 650 2459

David McCrone is Emeritus Professor of Sociology, and co-founder of the University of Edinburgh's Institute of Governance in 1999. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, and a Fellow of the British Academy. He coordinated the research programme funded by The Leverhulme Trust on Constitutional Change and National Identity (1999-2005), and on National Identity, Citizenship and Social Inclusion (2006-2012). He was co-director of the ESRC-funded Scottish Election Study (1997), a principal investigator in the Scottish Parliamentary Election Study (1999), and has held a number of research grants over the years from ESRC, Leverhulme, Rowntree, and Nuffield. He has written extensively on the sociology and politics of Scotland, and the comparative study of nationalism. He was a member of the Expert Panel which devised procedures and standing orders for the Scottish Parliament, and was advisor to its Procedures Committee which reviewed the Parliament’s founding principles. Currently, he is professorial research fellow on Heat and the City, a multi-disciplinary research programme funded by the Research Councils UK.



  • MA (University of Edinburgh)
  • MSc (University of Edinburgh)


Studying Nationalism at Edinburgh

Over recent years, we have established Edinburgh as a major centre for research in the study of Scotland, and in the sociology of nationalism and national identity. This is very much a collaborative effort, and the Ethnicity, Nationalism, and National Identity Network (ENNIN) is keen to attract enthusiastic and skilled PhD students to work with us and to develop shared ideas and interests.


Biographical statement

My own research on the sociology of Scotland and the sociology of nationalism and national identity has benefited greatly from working with other people in a mutually supportive and enthusiastic research environment. More recently our work together has focused on national identity, and, in particular, the ways in which people construct and negotiate these and other identities for themselves. In this work, we have used large-scale surveys, ethnographies and qualitative interviews. Since 1999, we have been involved in a major programme of research on national identity in the context of constitutional change, funded by The Leverhulme Trust. This research has allowed us to explore, for example, the degree to which setting up the Scottish Parliament has had an impact on national identity, not only in Scotland but also in England.


Here is a lecture I gave to our Nationalism Studies class in February 2015. An earlier version was given at the London School of Economics in November 2014.


How does a sociologist account for the astonishing Scottish result in the May 2015 British general election? Here is my take: (click here)

GE 2015 - Forth Bridge



Recent publications

Understanding National Identity

‘Understanding National Identity’ was launched at the conference organised by the Ethnicity, Nationalism and National Identity Network (ENNIN) on Friday 15th May 2015. Click here for an outline of the talk. The book is published by Cambridge University Press.

The authors will be talking about it at the Edinburgh Book Festival on 26th August at 11am in the Garden Theatre. 



McCrone and Bechhofer Understanding National Identity. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2015. (link)

'What Makes a Gael? Identity, Language and Ancestry in the Scottish Gàidhealtachd’, in Identities, Vol. 21 (2): 1-21, April 2014. (with Frank Bechhofer) (link)

‘Imagining the Nation: symbols of national culture in England and Scotland’, in Ethnicities Vol.13 (5): 544-64, 2013. (with Frank Bechhofer) (link)

Keating and McCrone (eds.) The Crisis of Social Democracy in Europe, Edinburgh University Press, 2013. (with Michael Keating) (link)

‘Changing claims in context: national identity revisited’, in Ethnic and Racial Studies, 2012, DOI:10.1080/01419870.2012.676204. (with Frank Bechhofer) (link)

'Scotland out of the Union? The rise and rise of the Nationalist Agenda’ in Political Quarterly, vol. 83 (1): 69-76, 2012. (link)


On-line publications by David McCrone can be found on the Institute of Governance site.