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Ford--A Village in the West Highlands of Scotland

Ford--A Village in the West Highlands of Scotland: A Case Study of Repopulation and Social Change in a Small Community

John B. Stephenson
with the assistance of Sheena Carmichael
Copyright Date: 1984
Pages: 188
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  • Book Info
    Ford--A Village in the West Highlands of Scotland
    Book Description:

    The Highlands of Scotland, like the southern Appalachians of the United States, have long been a problem area in Great Britain, troubled with a fading economy and loss of population. Most books about the region, however, are popular volumes that romanticize a bygone way of life. This study of Ford, a village of some 160 people in western Argyllshire, thus fills a gap in the literature and provides a look at the present realities of Scottish life.

    Although the Highlands are by no means a homogeneous region, Ford in its size and makeup is perhaps a representative rural settlement. John Stephenson, who conducted extensive interviews in the village during 1981, focuses his study on the theme of survival, on whether this particular village shows signs of enduring as a community of people bound together by common interests and situations. Though necessarily tentative, his conclusions are optimistic. Ford has shown a recent increase in population, consisting almost entirely of newcomers, and though its residents have now a more varied background, they seem to have a sense of place, of belonging to the village.

    This book will provide new insights not only for those interested in life in the Highlands but also for all those interested in small communities in other parts of the world.

    eISBN: 978-0-8131-5929-4
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. 1-4)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. 5-6)
  3. Acknowledgements
    (pp. 7-8)
    John B. Stephenson
  4. List of Illustrations
    (pp. 9-10)
  5. Preface
    (pp. 11-14)
    Kenneth Alexander
  6. 1 Introduction
    (pp. 15-23)

    I have a very simple purpose in writing about the village of Ford: to share what I have learned about the nature of life in the rural West Highlands of Scotland today. It is more than idle curiosity which drives me to seek this understanding and to share it. Growing mainly out of a lifelong attachment to the central Appalachian region of the United States and a concern with its future, this interest has become more general over the years and encompasses a concern with the fates of remote communities everywhere. As technological improvements in communication, informationhandling, and transportation encourage...

  7. 2 The Setting: Ford and the Mid-Argyll District
    (pp. 24-38)

    Argyll is that section of the Scottish Highlands which is the most southwesterly. Although it was one of the original seven crofting counties, a fact which places it historically in the tradition of the clanship system, use of Gaelic, and the institution of the croft itself, Argyll’s proximity to Lowland Scotland has placed it in a marginal position between the Highlands and Lowlands. It stretches roughly from the River Clyde on the south to the area called Morvera north of Loch Linnhe. Argyll includes the Island of Mull on the north and the Kintyre Peninsula to the south. For almost...

  8. 3 The Historical Setting
    (pp. 39-79)

    The people of Ford today live side by side and on top of the history of others who have occupied the area they now temporarily claim as theirs. It is a history both ancient and immediate. It covers an incredible span of time, but because of recent rapid change, ‘history’ is also felt as something that happened recently, as if time were nipping at one’s heels. It is important to understand some of this history because it is a ‘lived-with’ history: the people of Ford carry it with them and experience it almost daily in one way or another. Their...

  9. 4 Ford Today: the Structures of Social Life
    (pp. 80-106)

    On the casual visitor today, Ford leaves the impression of somnolence. When outsiders express this view, of course, it is highly resented by the people of the village, first of all because it is not true, and second because even if it were, it is not the place of outsiders to say so. But the impression is there nonetheless, summer and winter (though there is more traffic in summer). Passers-through will not see people collected on the road except at unusual times, they are not likely to encounter road jams, and they do not linger long enough to penetrate the...

  10. Illustrations
    (pp. None)
  11. 5 Ford Today: Depopulation and Repopulation
    (pp. 107-138)

    A glance at the population table for Kilmartin parish (see Table 5-1) tells the story. Only about a fifth the number of people are living here that were here 150 years ago. Historical records show that over two hundred years ago when fighting men were called out, great numbers issued forth from what are now deserted glens. The Census for 1841 shows 31 people from age 4 to 73—McPhails, McDouglas, McKellars, Campbells, McDonalds, Patersons, Mc-Neils, Blues, McEustons, Sinclairs, and McKays—living in Ford just on the one farm of Torranbeg. Indeed, until the turn of the century, according to...

  12. 6 Ford Tomorrow: Survival, Continuity, and Change
    (pp. 139-167)

    To ponder the future of the village of Ford is to consider the lives of all such communities everywhere. The issues upon which its life or death turn are at one level the same issues which confront and tranform small places in many nations.

    ‘Life’ and ‘death’ are, of course, metaphoric terms, taken from a biological context (where their meanings are obscure enough already) and applied, sometimes uncritically, by sociologists, anthropologists, journalists, and other observers of the human scene to forms of human association whose organic qualities have led thinkers to confuse communities with living organisms. Communities do not live...

  13. Appendix
    (pp. 168-176)