Chair's Update Spring 2014

UK and BSA: what has held each of them together?

On 18 September 2014, a relatively small proportion of the population of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (British citizens over the age of 16 years who are resident in Scotland) can vote in the Scottish referendum on the question: ‘Should Scotland be an independent country?’ A minority of the people of Scotland (less than 33%) are in favour of independence. Perhaps the Scottish government is relying on a combination of the 700th anniversary of the Battle of Bannockburn (where Robert the Bruce routed a larger English army), along with hosting the Commonwealth Games and the Ryder Cup golf tournament, to generate a surge of nationalism and self-efficacy into the Scots. As Linda Colley points out in her recent essays on the United Kingdom, ‘All countries are synthetic and imperfect creations and subject to change’ (Colley, 2014).

The BSA is a composite organisation and also subject to change. Unlike the UK, (a state composed of four nations), the constituent parts of BSA are not ethnic, political, religious or geographical, but there are real differences nevertheless. Compare, for example, the characteristics and culture of members who: (i) function within an educational, health or research setting; (ii) operate within the NHS or independent sector; (iii) are based within the UK or overseas. Therefore, what binds the BSA together?

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