Imagining the Scottish Economy: Economic (In)Security and the 'Hidden Politics' of Independence
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On September 18th 2014, voters in a Scottish independence referendum were asked the yes/no question: "Should Scotland be an independent country?" Scotland voted ‘no’ to independence from the United Kingdom by a margin of 55% to 45%. The majority of the debate focused on what was termed ‘the economics of independence’. Whilst economic implications ought always to have been an important consideration, the key arguments for and against independence were built almost exclusively on how independence could influence the economic prospects of Scottish people. Essentially, through the articulation of the economic insecurities of either union or independence, unionists and nationalists drew on the assumption that people in Scotland are bound up within a shared community of economic fate, signified by the ‘Scottish economy’ and/or ‘UK economy’. Through the articulation of these insecurities arguments both for and against independence were justified, demonstrating the potential significance of economic security in the re/territorialisation of political geographies vis-à-vis more conventional matters of security thought predominant in this regard. Through a poststructuralist discourse analysis of key texts, including those issued by the official nationalist and unionist campaigns – ‘Yes Scotland’ and ‘Better Together’ respectively – this thesis challenges a fundamental assumption upon which such arguments are made, namely, the idea of ‘the economy’ as a unifying object space within which subjects are thought to have an especially shared economic (in)security. It is argued that the articulation of economic (in)security is inextricable from the very idea of the economy, and critically, the perceived legitimacy of arrangements made for its governance – an established discursive context that made possible almost entirely economistic arguments for and against independence, which served to obscure the necessarily ‘political’ underpinnings of what ultimately proved to be a sterile debate.
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