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Scotland and Islandness

Explorations in Community, Economy and Culture


Edited By Kathryn A. Burnett, Ray Burnett and Michael Danson

Scotland’s islands are diverse, resourceful and singularly iconic in national and global imaginations of places «apart» yet readily reached. This collection of essays offers a fascinating commentary on Scotland’s island communities that celebrates their histories, cultures and economies in general terms. Recognising a complex geography of distinct regions and island spaces, the collection speaks to broader themes of tangible and intangible cultural heritage, narratives of place and people, the ideas and policies of island and regional distinctiveness, as well as particular examinations of literature, language, migration, land reform, and industry. With a view to placing ideas and expressions of islandness within a lived reality of island life and scholarship, the collection provides a multidisciplinary perspective on the value of continued and expanding research commentaries on Scotland’s islands for both a Scottish and an international readership. 

This book should instantly appeal to scholars of Island Studies, Scottish Studies, and Regional Studies of northern and peripheral Europe. Readers with particular interests in the sociology and history of Scottish rural and northern Atlantic communities, the cultural histories and economies of remote and island places, and the pressing socioeconomic agenda of small island sustainability, community building and resilience should also find the collection offers current commentaries on these broad themes illustrated with local island examples and contingencies.

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Chapter 9 Margins of Resilience, Sustainability and Success: Island Enterprise and Entrepreneurship (Mike Danson and Kathryn A. Burnett)



9.Margins of Resilience, Sustainability and Success: Island Enterprise and Entrepreneurship

‘Survival’ and a fragility of development are much associated with the economic history of Scotland’s geographical periphery and margins, most notably the Highlands and Islands. The shift over recent decades towards a greater emphasis on both local enterprise and an enhanced sustainability agenda has firmly impacted on the nature of production and consumption economies within all of Scotland’s rural spaces (Anderson 2000) but it has increasingly informed policy and opportunity within more remote rural regions, most especially in the spaces of contemporary and complex ‘margin’ – Scotland’s offshore islands. Our previous work on enterprises in island and remote rural areas (Danson and Burnett 2014; Burnett and Danson 2016, 2017) has demonstrated the need to avoid a simple transfer of sectoral and national strategies and policies to what are defined as local and sub-national peripheral and marginal regions. Furthermore, research and debate on the nature of behaviours and attitudes to island enterprise and entrepreneurship have been an important focus of research in island studies more generally (see especially Baldacchino 2005, 2010, 2015, 2019) and local and national context case studies offer useful insight to comparative experience elsewhere. Our interest lies in Scotland and the ‘offshore’ economy of its small island communities.

The popular and default narrative of small offshore islands of the British Isles (and indeed for Scottish reference also, those especially of our neighbouring nation, Ireland) is one consistent...

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