Hobsbawm defines ‘invented tradition’ as: “a set of practices, normally governed by overtly or tacitly accepted rules and of a ritual or symbolic nature, which seek to inculcate certain values and norms of behavior by repetition, which automatically implies continuity with the past”.Idea developed in edited book by Eric Hobsbawm and Terrence Ranger . (1983)They investigate claims that traditions are old and timehonoured when they have really been recently invented, for political purposes “Nations do not make states and nationalisms but the other way round"
Chapters in the book include:
The Highland Tradition of Scotland - Trevor Roper
The Hunt for the Welsh Past in the Romantic Period - Prys Morgan
The Context, Perofmance, and Meaning of Ritual (about the Monarchy) - David Cannadine
Representing Authority in Colonial India - Bernard Cohn
The Invention of Tradition in Colonial Africa - Terence Ranger
i.e. the authors see this happening in lots of places around the globe.
The Invention of Tradition 1983
recent studies that use this "invention of tradition" concept to
guide their research
Mirror of Modernity: Invented
Traditions of Modern Japan. Edited by Stephen Vlastos (1998)
Includes essays on diverse 'traditions' such as martial arts, japanese-style
labor management, and the cult of domesticity
The Bible and Zionism: Invented Traditions,
Archaeology and Post-Colonialism in Israel - Palestine by Nur Mashala (2006)
“Nevruz’ or ‘Newroz’?
deconstructing the ‘invention’ of a contested tradition in contemporary Turkey” by Lerna Yanik in Middle East Studies (2006)
In his 1990 book Nations and Nationalism Since 1780: programme, myth, reality , Hobsbawm identifies three stages in the development of nationalism:
A preliminary phase in which the idea of the nation is purely cultural and/or folkloric;
A pioneering phase wherein political campaigners begin to try and raise awareness and mobilize the nation;
And finally, the stage at which nationalist movements acquire mass support, an occurrence which can come to pass before or after the birth of the state. (page 12)
The invention of tradition is mobilized by campaigners in the second phase, as a sense of national identity is promoted.
Invention of Tradition and Nationalism
Hugh Trevor-Roper included a case study of Scotland in Hobsbawm and Ranger's 1983 book The Invention of TraditionHe extended this in a 2008 book The Invention of ScotlandHe questions what many people would see as some of the key elements of Scottish national identity: like the kilt, and the bagpipe and tartan.
In mid 18th century when political entrepreneurs 'discovered' a Scots-Gaelic epic poet called Ossian who's supposed writing was "discovered" and translated by James Macpherson.
This popularised the idea that Scottish Highland culture was ancient and noble and distinct from other parts of Britain.
But actually Roper and others conclude that Macpherson probably just made up all the poems, based on some myths and legends.
However the poetry was popular so it still contributed to the myth of the Scottish nation
Kilt invented in mid eighteenth century (which is a long time ago but definitely not ancient). Invented by Thomas Rawlinson - an ENGLISHMAN!People used to wrap fabric around themselves (like a skirt), but he thought it would be handier if it had pleats sewn in.In old times people wrapped themselves in fabric but it was not like the modern kilt.
Family tartans probably never existed historically.Tartan patterns would have varied by region but people would really just wear . What tartan one wore was mainly a decision based on preference or fashion. People became interested in Tartan and started having patterns made for their families, but the idea that the patterns reflect ancient clans, Roper says is a myth.
Functionalism as a sociological perspective emphasizes how different parts of a system contribute to the stability of the whole.
Durkheim on Suicide
Merton on Crime
Following Hobsbawm and Ranger, and Trevor-Roper we can look at how the invention of tradition in Scotland worked in the interests of Scottish nationalists
The epic poetry of Ossian contributed to the understanding on the part of people in Scotland that they had a history and culture that was distinct from England, or other parts of what became the United Kingdom. This contributed to a political desire for independence.It is important to note that it didn't really matter that Macpherson made things up because the effect of the myth was important - i.e. it was functional.
The tartan and the kilt provided symbols for people to emphasize their Scottish national identity. People could visually represent their "Scottishness", and assess the nationality of others. Having a family tartan provided a sense of legitimacy for powerful families.These "traditions" were propagated in a variety of ways. As nationalism coincided with the tourism industry and more global communication, the myth of these 'ancient' traditions spread even further - and contributed to the tourism industry.These symbols continue to be important to Scottish national identity, and we can see evidence for this in the 2014 referendum.