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date: 23 January 2021

Abstract and Keywords

The consequences of World War I and World War II unleashed a torrent of political, social, and economic change across the world. The growth of political extremism and instability, made worse by fundamental changes in the global economy, were the hallmarks of much of contemporary European history in which politics on the Continent became increasingly polarized between far-right nationalism and fascism, and left-wing socialism and communism. This article, which relates the Scottish experience during the interwar period to a wider British and European historiography, shows how politics and economics became enmeshed as Scottish society was polarized by class divisions. Although the political and cultural debates were heated, they took place in a context of social and economic stagnation in which unemployment and poverty showed no signs of disappearing. The article also examines why the traumas of socio-economic dislocation that engulfed other political systems in Europe did not have the same effect in Scotland.

Keywords: Scotland, interwar period, socio-economic dislocation, extremism, World War I, World War II, Europe, historiography, politics, economics

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