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Empire and Scottish SocietyThe Impact of Foreign Missions at Home, c. 1790 to c. 1914$
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Esther Breitenbach

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780748636204

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: March 2012

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9780748636204.001.0001

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(p.179) 8 Conclusion
Empire and Scottish Society

Esther Breitenbach

Edinburgh University Press

This chapter considers the evidence which supported the arguments that the Presbyterian churches furnished a major mechanism through which ‘Empire penetrated to everyday life’, and that Presbyterianism was fundamental to the articulation of Scottish national identity in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, despite the religious divisions of the time. It notes Hastings' observations that the role of clergy in ‘ensuring something of a collective consciousness’ between groups of different social status and levels of education, arguing that through their ministry they were teachers not just of religion but also of history. It observes that in nineteenth- and early twentieth-century Scotland, the Presbyterian churches had both the power and the means to influence and shape ‘national consciousness’. It concludes that the foreign mission movement, through the institutional life of the churches, not only brought the empire home to the Scottish people but it also gave them a new sense of themselves.

Keywords:   Presbyterian churches, Empire, national identity, collective consciousness, national consciousness, foreign mission movement

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