This thesis offers an anthropological study of the
Orkney archipelago. It demonstrates the extent to which outsiders have always sought to influence the life of the islands.
In doing this, it draws a distinction between pragmatic and
romantic incomers. Pragmatic incomers have always come to
Orkney for a purpose, most often to take up the possession of
land or office. They have established a tradition of incomer
hegemony, which dominates the formal political mechanisms of
the islands. In contrast, a recent influx of romantically minded
English middle class incomers has changed this pattern.
These people have settled in Orkney as a means of escaping the
modern world. Similar individuals are to be found in other
parts of the North, but Orkney is unique in having a large concentration of these "white settlers". However, Orkney's
romantic incomers have not been accommodated within the
established incomer hegemony. Despite this, they have acquired
an outstanding degree of local political control through their
activities as conservationists. Here, the mechanism of political
organisation has been the voluntary association. The importance
of voluntary association as a social and political device is
considered in detail. Thus, the romantics have acquired power
through informal means.
The attributes of pragmatic and romantic incomers alike
are reviewed. The evolution of the tradition of pragmatic incomer dominance is traced from earliest times. The difference
between the romantics and the pragmatists and the success of the
romantics in winning power are explored in a general fashion,
before being illustrated in four case studies concerned with
Ultimately, the claim that incomers have always exerted
influence over local life is substantiated. This is offered as
an important insight into the politics of island life. Indeed,
it is suggested that the example of incomer influence within
Orkney may very well be unique in the context of Scotland as a
whole. In this way, the thesis claims to have taken up and to
have highlighted a compelling issue.