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The Sporting Life: Democratic Culture and the Historical Origins of the Scottish Right to Roam

51 Pages Posted: 21 May 2016  

Gregory S. Alexander

Cornell Law School

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: April 5, 2016

Abstract

In 2003, the Scottish Parliament enacted the Land Reform (Scotland) Act, which, among other reforms, grants to “everyone” a right to access virtually all land in Scotland for a wide variety of purposes, including recreation, educational activities, and even some commercial or for-profit activities. Legal recognition of this broad-ranging “right to roam” comes after more than a century of debate over the public’s right to access privately-owned land in the Scottish Highlands. This Article is the first historical account of the origins of the remarkable Scottish right to roam. It sets the debate over the right to roam with a clash between two different visions of the sporting life. One, older, rooted in the Victorian and Edwardian periods, viewed the sporting life as one of hunting, aided by the use of modern technology — rifles and such — and much older technology in the form of dogs and horses. The other vision is of more recent vintage. It is a vision of contact with nature through walking, hiking, and similar forms of unmediated interaction with nature. Curiously, both visions of the sporting life claimed the mantle of preservation and conservation. This Article argues that the culture of unmediated contact with nature ultimately prevailed as a democratic culture became more entrenched in both politics and society.

Keywords: Legal History, Property, Citizenship & Entrepreneurship, Comparative Law, Private Law, English & Commonwealth Law, Law & Society

Suggested Citation

Alexander, Gregory S., The Sporting Life: Democratic Culture and the Historical Origins of the Scottish Right to Roam (April 5, 2016). Cornell Legal Studies Research Paper No. 16-16. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2781995

Gregory Alexander (Contact Author)

Cornell Law School ( email )

Myron Taylor Hall
Cornell University
Ithaca, NY 14853-4901
United States
607-255-3504 (Phone)
607-255-7193 (Fax)

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