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Scottish Family  

Family Unit and Structure:

In Scotland’s history, each individual household was considered to be the smallest unit to which a person identifies.1 Households were then organized into a larger unit called a kin group or clan that was based on class and economic opportunity including family businesses, poverty and extreme wealth. The people within clans became very close, and a lot of overlapping existed among the clans of Scotland. This overlap proved to be beneficial because it created a large sense of familiarity among the Scots.2 Although the presence of clans has decreased and mainly remains important to tourists and historians, this sense of familiarity still exists today along with the recognition of clans as an important part of family life in Scotland.3

In recent years, the divorce rate and number of households with a single parent or a single adult have increased in Scotland. However, the family unit of the majority of households is still the “nuclear family,” which includes a mother, father and children.4 In Highland Scotland, which can be characterized by small towns, mountain backdrops and isolated homes, it is very common to find examples of a nuclear family. Household member include a mother, father and children. However, if a Scottish family has all daughters, they may break away from the concept of a nuclear family because, in this case, it is not unusual for the oldest daughter’s husband to live with the family.5 Furthermore, among the family unit loyalties exist. For example, in Highland Scotland if a man’s wife and mother are in an argument, the man should side with his wife because in the process of marrying her he commits his loyalty to her.6

Role of Women:

Within Scottish families, women surprisingly hold a very authoritative role.7 This is surprising because Scotland is considered to be a male dominant society. Historically, women in Scotland have been associated with domestic duties and men with paid employment.8 Although many women in Scotland today still consider raising the children as their main job, they are beginning to surpass men in terms of percentage of total employees.9 In the workforce, men tend to hold positions such as an elected public official, a legal professional or an administrative position in a business, whereas women in the workforce are employed as secretaries, social workers or care takers.10

Family Relationships:

Overall, Scottish families have very close relationships.11 However, behavior inside the house differs from behavior in public. In private, families laugh about inside jokes and discuss each other daily activities; however, in public Scottish families act much more distant. In Scotland, it is considered inappropriate to show affection in public or to discuss personal problems where others might overhear.12 Additionally, when families have visitors their close relationship is also hidden.13

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