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Growing up in Aberdeen. Children of the Nineteen Fifties. A special study. Aberdeen has seen dramatic changes since the 1950s.The “Granite City” had developed around industries such as paper making, fishing, quarrying and agricultural machinery.Then with the discovery of oil in the 1970s it was transformed into the oil capital of Europe as new wealth and new people arrived.Social mobility was accelerated by the influx of new wealth.A provincial city saw the arrival of new people from around the world. How have these changes affected the lives of Aberdonians?

We are fortunate to have a unique data set on which to draw to answer questions such as these.We have been able to follow a complete cohort of people born between 1950 and 1956 through their lives. 12,500 children in primary schools in Aberdeen were given health, psychological and educational tests between 1962 and 1964.This survey was set up by one of the first Heads of Sociology at Aberdeen – Raymond Illsley.It was complemented b…

Why history can help make you happier.

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Why history can help make you happier.
History, in the form of cultural heritage, is a much about the present as the past.Here we argue that the way in which people engage with local history can help to promote community wellbeing – and their own wellbeing along with it.
The reasons for this is that it helps to develop cultural and social capital, it helps to mobilize community members and resources (for example through volunteering) and it helps to create place identity and civic pride. In addition it can help to boost economic prosperity in marginal areas. Here we demonstrate how this happens with reference to two very different rural communities: the Outer Hebrides (a string of islands on the Western coast of Scotland) and Portsoy (an old harbour town on the north coast of Scotland).
In the Outer Hebrides, a series of local history organisations were set up in local settlements to document the links between past and present through people, the crofts they lived in, the land they farm…

Living history on the Western Isles

Living History on the Western Isles
Cultural heritage has enjoyed a surge in popularity in recent decades and nowhere more so than on the Western Isles of Scotland.  Starting in the 1980s there was a movement to reclaim the history of “ordinary people” as seen through their own eyes as a counterweight to official accounts of kings and queens, wars and treaties, politicians and aristocrats, that we learn at school.
This approach has a special resonance on the Outer Hebrides where alternative histories live vividly in people’s memories as on-going traditions.For example, the Gaelic language, still spoken by many Islanders,celebrates the landscape and lineages with which it evolved.Place names are evoked as well as long pedigrees embodied in patronymics. Hence, a person known simply as“Donald MacDonald”in English, in Gaelic calls up family histories involvinga long line of the sons of Donald,along with their nicknames.Thus does history infuse everyday communications.
These histories are…

Do people need children to feel fulfilled?

Do women and men need children to be fulfilled?

In times when people can increasingly choose whether or not to have children and women as well as men can pursue fulfilling lives beyond the domestic life, the question of whether people need children to be fulfilled is an interesting one.Yet increasing numbers of women are not having children, although whether this is involuntary due to postponement of starting a family or because they don’t want them - is less clear. How strong is the need to have children and what bearing does state support have on these decisions?

Traditionally it was argued that women need children to be fulfilled. For generations it was the mainduty of women to stay at home and raise children.It might be argued that this would apply less to men, for whom roles outside the home were traditionally more important. Whilst these attitudes might be changing they are still fairly well embedded in our culture.Although these are traditional views, there might be differences…