A Virtual Geography of the Scottish Islands

Ruth Wilson*, Claire Wallace, John Farrington

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)
12 Downloads (Pure)


Communications technologies, and in particular the Internet, support the formation of vast and distributed social networks and are fuelling changes in sociability. For residents of remote rural regions, they offer the promise of overcoming geographical barriers and enabling isolated and dispersed individuals to link to each other and to the rest of the world. However, speculation concerning such social transformations in rural areas has been largely unsupported by empirical evidence. This paper presents a case study of 350 bloggers from across the Scottish islands. By examining the connections they form (using social network analysis) and their discursive interactions (through a thematic analysis), it aims to show how the islanders make use of their digital connectivity. The social network analysis reveals a high degree of interaction between bloggers and commenters: within each island; between the islands; and with the outside world, as they reach beyond the limitations of their physical place. However, an analysis of the bloggers' discourse shows that it is new associations with other islanders, based on a common islander identity, that they seek to explore through their digital connectivity. The physical and metaphorical boundaries of island social life are not so much crossed and broken as flexed and stretched by the possibilities of the digital world.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)228-244
Number of pages17
JournalScottish Geographical Journal
Issue number3-4
Early online date20 Apr 2015
Publication statusPublished - 2 Oct 2015

Bibliographical note

Funding: This work was supported by the award made by the RCUK Digital Economy programme to the dot.rural Digital
Economy Hub [award reference EP/G066051/1].


  • rural geography
  • social geography
  • digital technology
  • social network analysis
  • blogs


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