So this was the idea we started from. We wanted to look at other parts of Scotland to see where that idea worked out you see? And there was another motivation actually which was my mother was Scottish, from the eastern side of Scotland. She was mainly brought up around Perth and so I’d always wanted to reconnect with that and this research idea gave me a chance to do that! And then so we decided to try for contrast and we already had Shetland and we went back to Shetland to interview more people there and then we looked at the North East, particularly Buckie but also Fraserburgh, Peterhead ... and Aberdeen for the company based trawling and then the Western Isles which was also small boats, but rather in decline. And tried to understand the kind of society which was behind these work activities and what was the explanation or the differences. We started, you see, with this idea which was based on work explaining differences in behaviour but I ended up thinking it was the other way around and that, in particular, the differences between Shetland and the North East on one hand and the Western Isles on the other were to do with agriculture rather than the material base which was very similar in both. I mean, both were fishing then with smallish boats and the sea was full of fish stocks in those days, so in both cases you could see in the Western Isles it limped along while in the North East and in Shetland it was incredibly successful in the 70s and 80s, to the extent that you ended up with what was essentially a working class kind of household having a couple of houses and a boat worth a million pounds or something like that! I just thought this was absolutely amazing, so that was what we were trying to understand.

  • Paul Thompson
Friday 17th July 2009